Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream—a vision of a compelling destiny. His dream was born from the same logos that shaped our Founders’ thoughts—the truth that all men are created equal, and the color of one man’s skin does not make him inherently superior or inferior to another man.
But King was not content to rest on that knowledge. He was driven by a bold vision that was the outworking of his philosophy, and he communicated that vision through brilliant oratory that captured the imagination of millions of his countrymen. Dr. King is best remembered for his “I Have a Dream” speech, which concluded with these dramatic words:
When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children—black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Catholics and Protestants—will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!” 1
When a group is united in its desire to achieve a worthy destiny, that group is marked by passion, esprit de corps , and a fire ignited in the human spirit. Dr. King told Americans, “I have a dream,” and millions were inspired to see that dream become a reality. They mobilized, they marched, they boycotted, they voted, and the civil rights movement that grew out of Dr. King’s vision—a movement that endured much pain, including the murder of the visionary—produced a vast change in America ‘s philosophy about race relations.
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill had a vision of crushing the Nazi oppressor. It was based on his logos —his belief that all men should be free. Churchill said:
Hitler knows he will have to break us on this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free, and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, the whole world, including the United States , including all we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand more years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.” 2
Like our Founders, and like Dr. King, Winston Churchill had an uplifting philosophy, but he was not content merely to know what was true and wise and excellent. Churchill communicated his values in such a way that his logos became valuable to an entire nation. Freedom was precious to Churchill, and it became precious to the English people. They rallied around his vision and spilled their blood to live according to those values. Winston Churchill stands in that hall of fame with great luminaries like Patrick Henry and Martin Luther King, men who poured out their very lives, not for money, but for a worthy destiny and an ennobling cause: freedom.
Let us look at one last individual who cherished the American philosophy of freedom and developed a vision that led to one of the most powerful industries that exists today. Henry Ford had a vision that the automobile should not be merely a plaything for the rich. He wrote:
I will build a motor car for the great multitude… It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God’s great open spaces… When I’m through, everybody will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one. The horse will have disappeared from our highways, the automobile will be taken for granted… [and we will] give a large number of men employment at good wages.
Without the logos , there is no destiny. Henry Ford’s knowledge of mechanics provided the foundation for his grand vision, as did his belief that all men are created equal. Ford wanted to democratize the automobile, and he succeeded. He succeeded because of the sense of destiny that was the natural outworking of his internal philosophy.