Martin Luther King and Encouraging Dreams

A Belittling Dream

Last night I dreamed of a little dog. Not mine. Someone else’s. They took offense when I called their dog little.

“Don’t call him little,” they said. “Just say he’s a dog.”

There was a lot of vehemence in their tone of voice. Why, I don’t know. There is nothing more I recall of the dream except a dog and me being called out for calling it little.

When I awoke I tried to figure out where the dream came from. As my psychology 1A professor from junior college taught, dreams are the brain’s way of dealing with things we weren’t finished dealing with before we went to sleep. What hadn’t I finished thinking about? Was there someone I had belittled during the day, perhaps on line or in person?

No one came to mind. Then I looked at it the other way around. Did I feel belittled yesterday? Bingo. I’d posted something on line and – just before I went to bed – I saw that one commenter had disagreed with my take on things. That part was fine. The way they expressed their disagreement wasn’t fine. It was sarcastic and dismissive, with a strong sense of self-superiority at having figured things out while suggesting I was too stupid to have considered their view. In a word, the way they presented their position was belittling.

The dream of the little dog was my brain’s way of continuing to deal with what I’d been thinking of just before falling asleep.

Encouraging Dreams

When Dr. Martin Luther King spoke of his dreams, he spoke of the little ones among us.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Wikipedia)

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification”, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. (Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream, 8/23/63.)

King dreamed big, and in sharing his dream he encouraged others to do the same. Dreams that encourage goodness and right are dreams worth sharing, and it is worth encouraging those dreams and the dreamers who dream them as well.

Dreaming of righteousness and proclaiming goodness is a Godly act:

Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams. (Joel 2:28, Acts 2:17.)

  • When you dream, are you encouraging or belittling?
  • When you dream, do you hope for encouragement or belittling?
  • When others share their dreams with you, do you encourage or belittle those dreams, those dreamers?

Dreams are matters of great substance. Encourage one another in dreams of goodness and righteousness.

Have a dream.

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5 Responses to Martin Luther King and Encouraging Dreams

  1. without a vision the people perish.

  2. Jeannie Prinsen says:

    This is great, Tim. I love how you’ve juxtaposed your own dream with King’s dream. I’m sad that his dream of true equality still has not been realized 50 years later. We must not become complacent.

    Yeah, I’ve had the belittling experience online too. I got kind of scorched last week: someone was not only dismissive toward me (although I’d engaged in good faith) but ranted about it on another thread. It actually ended quite amicably, for which I’m grateful, but it was a good lesson that behind the handle or profile there is a person deserving of respect (also that any online disagreement is usually just the tip of a much larger iceberg). Anyway, thanks for the way you’ve woven these familiar experiences into a bigger context.

    • Tim says:

      Thanks, Jeannie, and I’m glad that interchange ended better than it started. Encouraging other people to dream and being encouraged by their dreams and ideas doesn’t seem like it should be so hard, but it is for some reason.

  3. I’m glad you posted this because it has struck a nerve. My friend Mimi (not her real name) has the same nightmare, over and over, night after night: she dreams she is killing her family. It’s vividly violent and leaves her scared to sleep. She ends up exhausted and unable to function properly. In waking life she comes across as a very gentle person, although plagued by guilt over the puerperal psychosis she suffered after the birth of her second child. Please pray that I will be able to share the love of Christ with her and her family, and that she will find some respite in the tender, loving arms of our Saviour, and in the knowledge that we’re *all* broken, every single one of us, and we *all* need a forgiveness that is beyond our ability to attain. Still Christ offers us His love – conditional only on our surrender to Him. Thank you, Tim 🙂

  4. Anu Riley says:

    I know about being belittled. I’m so sorry it happened to you. Maybe there will be a day when we are done resorting to hurting others as a valid means of communication.

    Abusers and/or abusive persons (there is a difference) tend to claim that they use such tactics because they have “no choice.” In using such tactics, their words are likely to be taken seriously. It will ensure that the message comes across.

    For example, why shout at a person as if they are deaf? Well, shouting usually indicates that you have been pushed too far, and if you raise your voice—that usually gets that point across.

    Basically, it’s the fault of others when they resort to certain tactics. If everyone around them would just sit in a circle around them, and pay attention—-we all might be spared from being ground down underneath their feet. Interesting, right?

    When we lost our fur baby, I was shocked in realizing that I would be defending him as much as I did—to those who seemed to insist that he was “just a dog.” I can guarantee you that NO ONE thought they were belittling him, or the enormity of our grief.

    If he was “just a dog,” then I have every right to fire back at you that you are “just a pile of dust” as the Bible states. I didn’t go there, but sometimes I wonder if I should have used stronger language in order to make my point, without sinking to their level.

    I remember the character of Scout, in To Kill a Mockingbird, make the statement that Tom Robinson was “just a Negro.” During his trial, when her friend broke down in tears over what he was witnessing—her answer was to claim that he wasn’t worth much, being a Negro, so why take such things so seriously?

    How many times, I wonder, did MLK Jr (as well as the entire population of black people) were treated that same way? Their lives aren’t worth much, so why treat them as though they matter?

    I’m still having nightmares over the trials and trauma I’ve endured over the past three years, and before that, too. I hope they go away someday. All they do is remind me of how little worth I seem to have had in the eyes of others.

    I never heard MLK Jr claim that he’d given up dreaming big, even though (I believe) he claimed that he might not live to see those dreams come true. Not sure if he was predicating his own demise, or if he understood that his dreams might take a long time to come to pass, long after he was gone.

    I’d like to dream big in my waking life. Someday, my heart will be whole again. MLK Jr believed we would be a whole society someday, and while it’s debatable if that has come true—hopefully there have been SOME positive changes. That is certainly a good reason to keep our dreams alive.

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