At the recommendation of both Tonia and my mother, I’ve been reading a Philip Yancey book, which is about people who have inspired his own faith. He begins with Dr. Martin Luther King, and says that King’s greatest gift, his most important role, was keeping people’s faith, their hope, their vision of a better world, intact against the terrible daily realities they faced. Most of us think that King’s main work was calling people to action, but I really think Yancey is right – his main work was keeping hope alive in those people who were ready to act – envisioning and holding in sacred trust the beautiful vision they had for peace and justice and brotherhood.
I have a dream . . .
These words, so simple but powerful, begin King’s famous speech – perhaps not his most eloquent speech but it is the one we remember, teach to schoolchildren, hold close to our hearts.
Yancey says, ” A prophet calls us to daily acts of obedience, regardless of personal cost, regardless of whether we feel successful or rewarded.” Someone who holds the collective dream tightly, who can remind us constantly of the positive vision we are working towards, has the power to keep people working against tremendous odds and hardship. It’s hard to compare our sacrifices with the sacrifice of getting violently beaten or even killed, and yet change is very hard. Saying no to such easy conveniences that surrounds us is hard. (And some, like the Occupy Wall St folks, are getting pepper sprayed and arrested for peaceful demonstrations.)
To me, this is where the current environmental and social justice movements are struggling. So much focus has been put onto the negative – the bad things that will happen if we don’t change our ways, and so little attention has been paid to focusing on what we want to create instead. We often talk about this with the young people we employ and meet – it’s not enough to be against the current state of the world; we all must decide what we are for. We can’t lead people into a better future if we don’t have some dream of what that would look like. Just as we need a vision before creating a business, we need a vision of what an amazing, beautiful, post-petroleum, post-corporate rule future will look and feel like.
I’d like to share some of my own dreams with you here, and more importantly, I would love for you to share yours. Share them here, share them in your own space, share them in person with family and friends and strangers. Once we begin to share our dreams, the actions we need will be clear. Some of my dreams are things I already have in my life, but would like others to have too; some of my dreams will probably not be realized in my lifetime, but I still dream them for the generations to come.
I dream of a world where neighbors know each other, where we share tools, knowledge, and harvests. Where we share meals and news.
I dream of a world where families truly live together once more. Where children learn alongside their parents, and many of them stay to continue their parents’ work. Where generations live together.
I dream of a world where food is grown without chemicals, where we can feed our children without fear.
I dream of a world where rivers and oceans are clean enough to swim in, and fish can be caught and eaten without fear of contamination.
I dream of a world where elders are respected for the knowledge and experience, and where they pass those on to the next generations.
I dream of a world where our possessions are fewer, and treated with respect and love because we know how much time and skill they took to make, and how difficult they would be to replace.
I dream of a world where communities come together to bring in the harvest, and to gather in celebration of the seasons and the gifts we are given by the Earth.
And you? What do you dream?