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I think speeches -- quotes -- are a lot like art. We see in them what we want to see, what we need to see.
This was something I came to appreciate during my rhetoric course in college. (We spent the semester reviewing and analyzing famous speeches. It was fascinating!)
When we came to study Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech, I remember feeling angry when other students shared their interpretation of it, and those interpretations had nothing to do with racial equality or freedom.
"But that's not what it was about!" I'd think to myself.
Eventually I came to realize that words, no matter what our intent when stated, ultimately become subject to someone else's interpretation, and that their interpretation is subject to what's going on in their mind at the time.
Since then, I have often found comfort in the words of others. I talked about this in one of the memoir bits in Happy Herbivore Abroad.
I also find that my understanding -- my interpretation of quotes -- changes with my circumstances and as I grow.
Although King's "I have a dream" speech will always be about racial equality and freedom, I also now finally see another meaning some of my classmates saw: King's speech can also be about the American dream. Having that freedom to dream. Having a dream at all, whatever that dream is.
In looking over some of my favorite MLK quotes, I started seeing how many of them relate to minimalism and my "progress not perfection" mantra. No doubt I have been influenced by King over the years, but I also think it goes back to that interpretation, and how deeply personal it is.
Never the less, for this Minimalist Monday (on Martin Luther King Jr. Day!) I wanted to share those quotes with you. Maybe you'll find your own message within them :)
My favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes:
"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
"Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."
"We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
"Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."
"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward."