“ I have a dream,” Martin Luther King, Jr. famously declared in a speech on August 28, 1963, in which he called for an end to racism in the United States. That dreamer, who spoke of freedom, equality, dignity and respect for all Americans, united more than 250,000 people of all colors and national origins that day.
Last Sunday, on the streets of Paris, 1.5 million Christians, atheists, Jews, Muslims and people of many other fauths stood side by side and marched in a show of global solidarity for freedom, equality, dignity and respect, in response to terrorist strikes that killed 17 people.
Leading the march was French President Franois Hollande, arm in arm with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and flanked by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a host of European and African leaders.
Although the march did not have any speakers, these leaders spoke volumes by their presence.
Nonetheless, the time is ripe for another dreamer like Dr. King; this time it needs to be a global dreamer with the ability to capitalize on this rare moment when the world is united in its outrage against the recent assault on the very fabric of all that Western civilization represents.
The Charlie Hebdo attack raised awareness that Islamist extremism does not target only Jews or Muslim infidels, but that it aims to destroy everyone and everything that is not in its image. World leaders need to show that they will stand together; communication, cooperation and collaboration are key.
Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Let’s hope someone, somewhere is ready to continue his legacy. The world as we know it may depend on it.
This appeared in the Jewish Journal on January 15, 2015.