In Defense of the 2009 Dream

John Lennon struck a chord when he sang, “you may say I’m a dreamer, well, I’m not the only one”. And he was right. To be human is to dream — and to want to bring our dreams to life. Dreamers, though, have gotten a bad rap. Our antagonists would have the world believe that those who imagine a better, more inclusive and peaceful world are ethereal beings, idle wanderers, and lost souls.

It’s a myth that dreamers are incapable of rationality and lost in the elusive. Both rationality and imagination are behind every brush stroke of Mona Lisa’s smile, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. They have connected – beautifully – in the pen strokes of Shakespeare, in the musical notes of Mozart, and in the inventive genius of men like Isaac Newton and Bill Gates. Every human being has the potential to share this duality. We are, as a species, gifted with complexity, and a desire to know the divine.

It’s a new election season in America, and on the heels of disaster, the possibility of change sparks both our imaginations and our desire for a more rational world. Is it possible, we ask, to heal the wounds of people and the rift between nations? Is it possible to overcome the well-oiled machine that has sanctioned the rule of morally bankrupt and intellectually empty leaders? Can the voices of reason and possibility rise above the rallying cries of war and more war?

Despite those who would suggest otherwise, it was dissent against rigid dogmas, and not religious fervor, that informed every word of our Declaration of Independence. And then, as now, the authors of a new age seek both a dream and an absolute. The dream is peaceful progress and the building of a nation where every human being has the opportunity to reach their highest potential. The absolute is never again. Never again can we allow the want of revenge to override reason. Never again can we stand idly while politicians and big corporations sink our country into the morass of corruption and the swamp of endless debt.

When our highest dreams and most rational actions are joined, we may overcome not just the stalemate of political divisions, but other social issues.

Presently, over 500,000 children live in the limbo of foster care. I can imagine a day when the most innocent and vulnerable among us are truly protected, not just in a time of crisis, but for the duration of their childhoods. When the “best interests of the child” is a promise fulfilled, and where a child’s right to live in safety, without fear, is considered paramount.

I imagine a world in which every child is given multiple and varied opportunities to find, nurture, and expand their potential, and where doing so is not a luxury, but a given. I believe that if we were truly motivated to nurture the best within our children, we would find many more Galileos in our midst. Einsteins and Kings, Van Goghs and O’Keefes, and yes, Barack Obamas.

In a country that sought to revitalize the rational-imaginative minds of its people, we might see a final end to discrimination. We might see a day when false limitations are universally known and believed to be false – and where character really is the ultimate determinant of one’s opportunities.

I can envision a time when rational tolerance is practiced. When the steady progression of humankind is the goal of all cultures, including the cultures of the traditionalists and the devoutly religious.

Religion and tradition should not be used as justification for stunting the evolution of humanity, or as an excuse for denying the inherent right of others to liberty and freedom. No God or other high-minded entity would have us mutilate the genitals of little girls, rape women, or slay, torture, or starve thousands of people in order to advance a political, religious, or cultural agenda. To live in a world where even one act of such violence is considered unavoidable, or par for the course, is to have twisted the noble concept of tolerance into soulless apathy.

Humanity is not soulless, but our challenges are many, our divisions are great, and recent years have discouraged our ideals. So many, reeling from tragedy, or facing a time of personal struggle, are feeling the weight of despair. They may even be afraid to hope for better days, particularly in a climate that has traded rational dreams for ever-deepening political divides – a climate in which war, torture, and death was marketed as a rational response, and those who sought answers and accountability were derided as “bleeding hearts”.

There’s a saying – “we all want to change the world.” Actually, we know that some, particularly those who profit in a time of war and destruction, would like to see it not change at all. Others find change threatening in some fashion.

The dreamers among us move forward, past our fears, because our minds recognize them as unnecessary limitations, and our imagination longs to see what is on the other side. We long to expand the boundaries and break the unnecessary barriers. We long to fill our individual selves with the light of possibility, and then carry that torch to the outside world. We long to create a legion of united individualists, who will stand together and usher in a new age of revitalization, and the reconciliation of our ideals with our everyday realities.

If we can dream it, it is possible. A battle to revitalize the human spirit requires no enemies, and a revolution of peace requires no violence.

If we were to each follow our highest ideals, we would likely find ourselves not divided, but united. Not alone in our idealism, but joined. Not lost in idle dreams, but wholly invested in making them come true. 2009 is only our beginning. Our end is nowhere yet in sight.

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In the 11th Hour, Republican Flop Sweat & A Crazymaking Strategy

In Minnesota, as in other states, the Republican party is making their final push for votes. Normally there would be nothing unusual about that, but this has been a particularly grueling election season, and the 11th hour pleas from the Republican party are reeking of flop sweat and desperation.

As a registered Democrat, this is the first time I have been targeted by the right-wing campaign machine. In my mail today there were nine political ads — six from the Republican Party of Minnesota, two from the Republican-supporting “Associated Builders and Contractors Free Enterprise Alliance”, and one from a Republican state representative running for re-election.

I remember reading the novel Clockwork Orange as a teenager, and being bewildered by the “Nadstat” language Stanley Kubrick created for his characters. The 2008 campaign literature of the Republican party is much like Kubrick’s experiment, except in this case the words are recognizable, but make entirely no sense given the reality of the situation. It’s the same kind of language that was recently employed by both Sarah Palin and Ted Stevens. Palin, upon reading a report that clearly stated she abused her power, insisted that the investigation found “no abuse of power there at all”. Stevens, after being convicted last Monday on fraud charges, stated on Thursday that he had not yet been convicted.

Denial in the face of reality would seem to be a poor strategy, particularly in politics, but even stranger than the alternative realities proffered by Palin and Stevens are the gaslighting slogans being offered up by the Republican party, seemingly designed to make rational people feel crazy .

Who can fix our economy? Only one party will fix the damage and prevent another crisis. Vote Republican.

Jobs lost. Spending up. Economy down. Energy prices Up. Vote (Republican) to end America’s economic crisis.

Vote Republican & Restore Balance to Our Economy.

Republicans will eliminate wasteful spending, balance the budget and regain the trust of the American taxpayer. [Emphasis added].

In these uncertain times, Americans have many questions….Republicans have real answers.

Help Republicans revive our economy.

Today’s financial crisis requires more than just a band aid. Vote Republican. Help fix a broken Washington and an ailing economy.

The Republican Plan: End wasteful spending for special interest projects not in our national interests and regain the trust of taxpayers. [Emphasis added].

There’s more, but you get the drift. Somehow, the crises wrought by eight years of a Republican administration is not the fault of Republicans, or of right-wing ideology. Somehow, even though our economy crashed while under the control of Bush and company, and the public’s trust was shattered, only more Republicans, sharing the same philosophies, can fix the damage. Only Republicans know, as Dick Cheney surely did when he decided to fill Halliburton’s coffers, which “special interest projects” are worthy of wasteful spending in the name of our national interests.

By way of some magical thinking, McCain didn’t support Bush with 90% of his votes, and the ultra right-wing Palin has no stake in the pro-war, corporate-pandering, pro-deregulation ideas that got us into this mess. As for all those Republican governors, representatives, and senators who refused to criticize their puppeteer, and instead spent the last four to eight years pulling strings and punches to ensure Bush’s will was done? Well, either those years never happened, or those politicians have been reborn, with only a scant memory of their lives before reincarnation.

It’s really a zammechat raskazz that the Republicans have vareeted, but my rassoodock just doesn’t buy it. And if that makes absolutely no sense to you, then I am surely worthy of your consideration — at least according to Republican logic.

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