This week we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr. His stirring “I have a dream speech” echoes throughout the ages. That speech touched my very soul when I first heard it. I cannot imagine how anyone could NOT be moved by the delivery of his important message.
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, “ Martin Luther King said in his famous speech, “they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all…would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
America’s most cherished gift is the fact that we have rights given to us by God that guarantee not just the freedom to dream, but the freedom to pursue those dreams in order to make them reality. But since America’s inception, there are those in high places who have been conspiring to take away our God-given freedoms. Conspiracy to do so is EVERYWHERE; and it is now at its climax.
It is easy to overlook loss of our freedoms when they are removed drip by drip. Often, freedoms are stolen from us in such a subtle manner that we scarcely notice. Looking back we are astounded to realize just how much freedom has been lost. There are many ways in which we unknowingly submit to being slaves.
First on the list is enslavement by debt. Armstrong Williams, a noted American political commentator, entrepreneur, author, and talk show host, says that debt is quickly the new form of slavery in this country.” Student loan debt eclipsed all other forms of debt except for mortgage debt for the first time in 2018. Bloomberg estimates that students collectively borrowed more than $1Trillion last year. It seems to me that dental students acquire more debt than students of other disciplines. Armstrong asks in his article if the students receive educational benefits that will enable them to pay back that debt. In the dental profession the answer flat out is no.
In all fairness, dental schools can only graduate students with a rudimentary foundation of dentistry in a relatively short period of time. So education really begins on the day of graduation. None of the graduates are really equipped to go into practice right out of school. But most students do not know this.
Unfortunately, massive debts ensure that many students will not be free to concentrate on building their knowledge and skills when they graduate. Instead, many become “production” slaves in order to pay back that debt. They are likely to develop bad habits instead of a solid foundation of excellence. It is likely that they will never really enjoy dental practice, or give back to the dental profession.
A second way freedoms become lost is through indoctrination and “groupthink.” Students have already spent years of indoctrination with “social correctness” by educational institutions and major media. They have been taught NOT to question authority and conform to accepted norms. There is an unspoken atmosphere of “groupthink” or “herd mentality.” This is self-imposed slavery. Mahatma Gandhi taught that freedom and slavery are often mental states, rather than overt physical oppression. In an atmosphere of “groupthink” innovators and free thinkers are shunned as outcasts. This does not bode well for the future of our profession.
Is it any wonder that many graduates actually believe that the techniques they were taught in school are the only way to do things and the best way? Nothing could be further from the truth! I have met many young practitioners who think they know more than their colleagues with decades of experience. They do not need mentors. After all, they are computer whizzes while older practitioners are dinosaurs. These attitudes absolutely clash with Dr. King’s vision for America.
Dr. King believed that the function of education is “to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.” “Intelligence plus character,” he said; “that is the goal of true education.” I believe that intelligence is more than the mere ability to memorize and spit out facts for exams. Intelligence includes the ability to think clearly; to apply basic principles of science and engineering to solve problems. And I believe that character is the ability to apply courage to one’s convictions; to put patients first instead of putting economics first. A practitioner of high moral character does not take shortcuts or ignore details that could compromise the overall outcome of treatment because it is expedient. Martin Luther King declares that “the time is always right to do what is right.” But this message seems to be missed by the majority, as science and ethics are increasingly sacrificed on the altar of economics.
The word “free” is a big part of the word “freedom.” But paradoxically, freedom is NOT free. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance to thwart those who would take our freedoms and the courage to fight for those freedoms. The great leaders of America — Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King – understood this. They were astute students of history. Martin Luther King observed that “Freedom has always been an expensive thing. History is fit testimony to the fact that freedom is rarely gained without sacrifice and self-denial.”
Martin Luther King had a dream of freedom. He fought for that dream and paid the ultimate price. The lesson he taught is not to be slaves; not to be complacent in the face of injustice and not to accept the status quo when you have the power to make a difference.
As we remember Dr. King, let us remember that each of us has a choice—slavery or freedom. There are diabolical entities continually conspiring to enslave us. If you are unaware, you are already a slave. Your choice today is therefore more important than ever.
Like Dr. King, I too have a dream—and I would very much like to see it come to fruition. Without freedom there is no hope of that. Like Thomas Jefferson, “I prefer dangerous freedom to peaceful slavery.”
Do you have a dream? Which will you choose—slavery or freedom? Are you prepared to fight to the death for that freedom?
As we remember Dr. King, these are the questions we must ask.
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Dr. Feinberg is also available to give presentations. His CV and speaker packet is posted on the website. (https://theonwardprogram.com/about-dr-feinberg/) Dr. Feinberg can be reached at info@theONWARDprogram.com.