Questions of identity remain a philosophical enigma that can never be coined within logical terms. Yet, throughout history, we aim to discover the objective meaning, value, and purpose of humankind. This pursuit of truth—in a world of plurality and diversity—defines who we are.
All nations, from the Ancients to the Moderns, have a dream for the Ideal.
Martin Luther King, in his “The American Dream”, expounds the concept of imago dei, “The idea that all men have something within them… The capacity to have fellowship with God. And this gives him uniqueness, it gives him worth, it gives him dignity… There are no gradations in the image of God.” This is the substratum of his belief, and why we should believe what he believes. Indeed, the beliefs we hold shape ourselves, who shape cultures, which shape civilizations.
He realizes that the Americans’ outlook demands a theological benchmark, to warrant significance to our existence, and why we ought to live accordingly to transcendental maxims instead of universal norms. The universe, filled with particles without sentience and conscience, cannot be the source to derive metaphysical axioms. It must emerge from beyond, through a “leap of faith”.
Secularization drives out meaning; spiritualization gives us meaning.
It means that all men are equal. It means that contrary to society’s ethics, but faithful to the Absolute Duty: segregation is immoral, and discrimination is irrational. Racial inequality is virtue in time, and vice in eternity. Therefore, these truths, that Luther presents, satisfy the vexed questions of why do we matter, how we should act, and what is our goal.
His explicit theology strikes the core of the subconscious: worldview, the determiner of thoughts, emotions, and actions. The Christ is in the center, circumscribing the Creation, as the Shepherd. The Anti-Christ states that the common mass has common mentality and mediocrity, referred to as “the Herd”. Rarely one attempts to systematically explicate the true identity (i.e. essence over substance) of men, which rationalizes our man-made hopes and visions. And King stresses on what our hopes and visions should be—not could be, nor what seems right or feels good.
Therefore, I believe that King triumphs in forging common ground for common men (who are divided within themselves, without common unity), through a grand reminder of the common thought of the Pre-Kantian 1776, that “all men are created equal.”