Strengths of Tech provide key to achieving dream of Dr. King

Tech has designated Jan. 10-26 as the period for honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with an interesting array of activities and collaborations. In doing so, we invite bold reflection among our community—and raise the challenge of how and why both the dream and the journey must continue.
In calling for the dream to continue, we underscore a long-standing hope for both leaders and followers who hold a vision of possibility for the world that is both human-centered and humane. We acknowledge an equally long-standing reality that engendering such a vision often requires inordinate courage and compassion. We draw attention to the fact that a basic challenge for people—even, and perhaps especially, those of good conscience and goodwill—is finding the nerve to see, or to learn to see, that it’s not so much that the world just needs love.
Having loving hearts and souls may indeed constitute an important common good these days, but what we may actually need a bit more of than just love is for much larger numbers of people to develop a much deeper capacity to dream of a world: where freedom, peace and justice reign supreme; where it is normal to embrace—with deep breaths, rather than shallow ones—the concepts of social responsibility and ethical action; where we applaud in wide-eyed wonder the absolute marvel of the potential of all human beings, not just some of us, and where we see clearly the absolute need for all available potential to function to the best of its ability; where human dignity has a secure value in all of our places under the sun; and where we have the good sense to preserve our little blue planet—as the only place we call home—and have even better sense to proclaim this planet as a place for courtesy and caring, for grace and respect—not just for ourselves but, in the deepest recesses of our compassion and courage, for others as well.
During this period of bold and, yes, dramatic reflection, we call for this dream, this hope, this expectation to continue—quite frankly because we remain literally haunted by the need in the world for such visionary dreaming in order to address thoroughly and well the truly thorny challenges that surround us.
The cautionary tale, of course, is that the one truth that we do not have the privilege of escaping is that we still have a very long way to go before we can call either the dream or the journey—whether we are thinking in local or global terms—over.
So, at Tech what do we do about the need to continue? An obvious answer is embedded in who we are as a university community. Note, if you will, that at Tech we take considerable pride in being smart, hardworking, entrepreneurial, innovative and incredibly effective problem-solvers. What we can do, then, is take on this set of problems. The dream that one man dreamed of well over 40 years ago, a dream so many others around the globe shared and continue to share with him, has not been realized just yet, but with all of the strengths those of us at Tech take such pride in, we, too, can dream a better world than the one we live in today.
Furthermore, we can take the opportunity of this annual ritual of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday to rededicate ourselves to the task of living up to the potential that we know we have, personally and institutionally.
I dare say that in honoring the life and legacy of Dr. King, what we more realistically have the opportunity to honor is not just him and his accomplishments but our own obligations to put ourselves to the test.
Do we have enough imagination to dream better worlds? Do we have the courage and compassion to endow our dreams with a human and humane sensibility? Can we bring truth to the power of our best dreams? Most of all, can we dedicate ourselves to the hard work, as Dr. King did, of making our most ambitious dreams for a better world come true? Indeed, I may be a “dreamer,” but, in keeping with a powerful legacy, I sincerely believe that we can do what we need to do and what we must do.