We all recall the famous words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech. . . "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." It has often been asked if this historic campaign is the fulfillment of Dr. King's dream.
As we move ever closer to November 4th, 2008, it may be worthwhile to reflect on the actions of each candidate and examine how those actions reflect the content of their character. A recent TV commercial makes the statement, "Adversity doesn't develop character, it reveals it." The implication was that during adversity, those with strong character emerge for others to see. This election will place our next president in the middle of the greatest adversity since the end of World War II. We are losing influence in a changing global community; we are engaged in two wars distant from our shores; we are suffering a global financial crisis triggered by issues in the US economy. How is each candidate positioning himself on this world stage?
One candidate in this race has accused the other of "acting Presidential" by traveling abroad and drawing large crowds. One candidate in this race has asked of the other "Spare us the lecture. . ." when the other demonstrates his understanding of the depth of our global crisis. One candidate in this race has chosen to question the integrity, associates, and personal motivation of the other, while insisting that he always places "country first." Instead of offering solutions and leadership that "reveal his character," during this period of adversity, this candidate has chosen to diminish the other in hopes that attacking the character of his opponent, somehow, he will be more positively perceived. That candidate is John McCain.
When judged "by the content of his character" Barack Obama has passed every test. He offers a vision of unity and a future of hope born of an understanding of our challenges in a global community. He has proposed strategies and solutions that recognize new realities of the 21st century. He remains calm and gracious in the face of personal attacks and complex national crises. He extends honor and respect to his opponent at all times -- even while expressing "strong fundamental differences" with his policy positions. He sees global leadership with a worldview of mutual respect among nations, versus leadership defined by military victory.
By any measure, these challenges have revealed the character of a leader that Dr. King would be proud of. This is the last test -- the character test. We have just over three weeks for the nation to cast the votes to confirm this judgment, or perhaps reveal a different verdict on the character of the American electorate.
The dream will soon be a reality.
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