Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.
Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. So glad that you could be with us today. Thanks so much for tuning in. I want to talk to you today about the power of dreams.
Now, in previous podcasts, I've discussed dreams. However, I have never really zeroed in and talked about the specific power a dream can have. Dreaming is important and it should never be limited or confined. Our imagination is a gift and creativity allows us to explore the unknown and what can be possible. [00:58.0]
Don't you love daydreaming as you go for a walk or try to problem solve a situation? I mean, how many of us have daydreamed what we could achieve if there were no limitations, if there were no restrictions? Dreaming, you see, is a big part of life. It's a big part of my life. I trust it's a big part of yours. It's a mental activity I think that opens the door to freedom. You're not governed by the laws of nature. You're not governed by the expectations of people. You don't need anybody's permission and you never know what that dream might produce.
Now, I can hear some people saying, I'm not a dreamer. I can't dream. Let me just remind you of the words of Henry Ford. If you think you can or if you think you can't, you're right. And what do you have to lose? As a matter of fact, look at the evidence of dreams all around you. Everything within your site right now, from the car that you might see to the light bulb that you're using all began with a dream. [02:00.0]
American entrepreneur and publisher, Malcolm Forbes once said, “When you cease to dream, you cease to live.” Filmmaker, George Lucas, said, “You can't do it unless you imagine it.” I like what Woodrow Wilson said, Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the United States. He said, “We grow great by dreams.” He said, “All big men are dreamers.” I would include women, too, in that statement, women like Mother Teresa, Helen Keller, Wilma Rudolph who dreamed of the braces being removed from her legs, and if you take a look at the gold medal count during the 1960 Olympics, you'll see the name Wilma Rudolph.
How about Lucille Ball, who despite what her acting teacher said to her mother, still pursued her dream of being an actor. How about Eleanor Roosevelt? How about the astronaut Christina Koch, who just a year or so ago was the first woman in history to remain at the international space station for the length of time she did, nearly a year. [03:08.5]
I think that people that dream big open the door to possibilities in their lives. You don't believe me? Ask Walt Disney who said on one occasion, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” I like what Solomon said in the Proverbs, “As a man thinketh, so is he.”
Isn't it interesting, friends, if you look back to your childhood, we're encouraged to dream and we're encouraged to fantasize? We are encouraged to dream as children, and then when we become adults, we're discouraged to dream. We're told that we're not being realistic and we're told that, You know what? You're just setting yourself up for disappointment because most dreamers are met with initial failure. Yeah, that's true, and I do say this. I do say that maybe we look at failure in the wrong way, because all great people are met with some kind of failure that simply propels them to keep going. [04:10.6]
So, I want to make this very powerful point and I want to say it several times throughout this podcast. Dreams are powerful. They can actually be a catalyst for change, right? No greater example of this was Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous I Have a Dream speech. It was given at the nation's capitol, August 28, 1963. With stirring eloquence, King challenged every segment of American society to develop a faith that could, in King's words, “transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.” [04:54.7]
A few years ago, a group of communications scholars representing American public address was charged with the task of selecting the best 100 political speeches of the 20th century. I was privileged to be part of that group who selected King’s I Have a Dream as the number one speech on that list. King’s poignant descriptions and vivid imagery offered hope and healing to an America fractured by racial turmoil.
Friends, dreams are powerful. They can be the catalyst for change. I mean, let's just stay with Martin King for just a second. In every single speech that King gave, in every written document, even in his famous letter from Birmingham jail, you see evidence of a dream, a dream that is deeply rooted in the American dream that all of us are created equal, that there is a possibility for full participation, Black, brown, white, Jew, gentile, Protestant, Catholic, non-believer, all of us together forming this beautiful brotherhood of love, a sisterhood of unity. [06:15.4]
Oh, baby. Don't tell me that dreams aren't powerful. Ask Walt Disney. Ask King Solomon. Ask Martin Luther King. You see, King's dream would be the catalyst that would not just transform the Southern portion of the United States, that would not just transform America, but King's dream would help transform the world. Beginning in 1955 with the Montgomery bus boycott when Rosa parks refused to give up her seat all the way until a bullet that ended King's life on April 4, 1968, he alludes in some fashion or form to a dream, a dream whereby his four children would play together with children of other ethnicities, a dream where people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. [07:15.3]
You see, King mentioned elements of this dream throughout his entire civil rights career, a dream where people live together in unity, in harmony, in peace. His was a dream that reflected five major themes I think and this is really important because it speaks to the power of a dream. Number one, in every one of King's speeches, you see this distinction of a dream. You see a clear and rational assessment of the devastation of racial division and what we need to do to overcome that division. That's a powerful dream. [07:55.7]
You see, this theme in every one of his speeches that speaks to a dream, the theme of time, that was really important. King would often say, “Now is the time” to seek racial justice. “Now is the time” to seek harmony. King would challenge America to act in a timely manner.
A classic example of this was a speech that King gave on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol following the March in Selma in 1965. This was that famous speech titled, “How Long?” Many of you have heard this speech? He said, “How long will justice be crucified and truth buried?”
I come to say to you this afternoon that however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long because truth crushed to earth will rise again. “How long?” King said. “Not long” because no lie can live forever. How long? Not long because you shall reap what you sow. How long? Not long because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Wow. [09:09.8]
Dreams are powerful. Listen to this feature in every one of King's speeches that reflects his dream. His oratory was a passionate plea to America to embrace freedom and equality for everyone. Listen to this feature that reflects King's dream. His call was for unity, for complete and total unity. You see, the Mark of a great leader is that they speak with a perspective that includes hope for a better day.
For King, speeches referenced in some form or another what he referred to as the beloved community, hope for a better day, a society where all citizens enjoyed full and equal participation under the law. On one occasion, King warned that we’d either learn to live together as brothers and sisters or we'd perish together as fools. [10:07.1]
But I think it's the final element that you see contained in King speeches and his written documents that reflect the most powerful aspect of his dream. King spoke in a tone of love. Friends, right out of scripture, right out of the sermon on the mount, King urged us first in a dream and then reflected in every one of his speeches. He urged us not to hate our oppressor, but to love our enemy, even to pray for those who persecute us.
I was privileged to teach for years at several universities. The last years of my teaching career, I was at Texas A&M University and my favorite class to teach was the rhetoric of the civil rights movement. I loved it. We literally started with a young 26-year-old Martin Luther King, who was the pastor at Dexter Avenue Baptist church the day that Rosa Parks got married—I got you—the day that Rosa Parks got arrested. Not married but arrested. And we literally follow King's career all the way until his assassination. [11:18.7]
From time to time, my civil rights students would say, Dr. Rigsby, I don't know if I can follow a man or celebrate a man with all the flaws that King had, and I would remind my students to show me a man or a woman with no flaws and I would give this as an example. As a pastor, I can tell you that King David oftentimes was as wrong as two left feet. That King David had many flaws, but I still read the Psalms.
Aren't you glad, friends, that people don't focus only on the bad parts, only on the flaws of life? And in no way was my argument that King was perfect. No one is. But what I'm arguing is that dreams have the power to transform. I argued it then and I suggested rather strongly now that dreams can be the catalyst for change in a good way. [12:13.1]
I mean, just think about King's legacy. He said on one occasion and this is part of his legacy that the greatest weapon and the man is the weapon of love. That's a good thing. What is King's legacy? I challenge each of us to appeal to our greater good, to make peace our goal. That’s a good thing, friends. King said on one occasion, “We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. And that will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man, that will be the day of man as man.” [12:59.0]
Oh, friend, when we dream, we are literally opening up the vault of possibilities, of what could be, of what might be, of what can be realized. It's exciting and it's within the grip of each and every one of us for we all have an imagination. We all have creativity. Why not imagine a world that is better and then commit to doing something about it. That's why I firmly believe that a dream has the power to transform and can be a catalyst for good. For good. And when we function like that, maybe the scripture one day will be realized where every valley will be exalted and every mountain and hill made low, and the crooked made straight and the rough places plain, and the glory of the Lord revealed for all flesh to see it together. [14:10.4]
That was Martin Luther King's dream, and may King's dream continue to uplift our spirits and encourage us toward peace and unity, but also, friends, may King's dream and the bold and audacious dreams of so many others challenge each of us to dream, to dream big about how we can make this world a better place.
Oh, let's think about those words for a few moments, friends. As a matter of fact, go ahead and contemplate and reflect on those words for a few days, because I'll tell you something. We need dreamers, big dreamers to bring our world together as a world of peace, a world of unity and a world filled with love.
Oh, friends, I'm uplifted. I hope you are as well, and until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick asking you the most important question I can ask today, how you livin’?
Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.
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