What fools we are. We build air castles, long for things we may never have, wish for a better way of life and a better world. In short, we dream. Our dreams are smooth and shiny, and they glow with a soft, appealing light. They are born in our minds, carefully nurtured and fed until they take on their own shapes and have a life of their own, at least in our mind’s eye. Everyone everywhere has dreams, without exception, some of us more than others to be sure, but we all dream.
There are those among us who would deny that, but they are bigger fools than the biggest dreamers. Perhaps they have ceased to dream when their own dreams went unfulfilled. Maybe their dreams were sour, vengeful affairs that crippled their souls. Who knows what happens to some people? Whatever the case, they are the people who scorn the dreamer and dismiss their dreams. Theirs must be a sad and empty existence. What they don’t know is that the fulfillment of dreams is not the point of dreaming. Dreaming is the point, the act of imagining what is not, letting our minds go wherever curiosity and imagination might take them.
If one is able to dream, then one is able to act upon those dreams, and dreams that come true can affect the whole world. Dreamers gave us the the Magna Carta, railroads, the Pieta, polio vaccine, the Taj Mahal, airplanes, the Mona Lisa, Beethoven’s Fifth, wine, poetry, Ferris wheels, spaghetti, Huckleberry Finn, roller skates, popcorn, the Brooklyn Bridge, chocolate, tractors, sunglasses, light bulbs, a round earth, the moon landing, velcro, balloons, super-soakers, miniskirts, telephones, computers, Corvettes, jelly beans and America. A lot of the people responsible for those things were ridiculed as dreamers, maybe told they were wasting their time on things that would never be. But they were dreamers, those people, every one, and dreamers know things.
Dreamers know that their dreams are step 1. They also know that not all their dreams will work out. But some do. Step 2 is working on making that dream a reality. So are steps 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or however many steps it takes. Usually the dreaming is the easy part, unless you’re Albert Einstein, who’s whole body of work was dreaming; thinking about things and writing down his thoughts. He left it to others to prove his dreams, content to dream other dreams. Well, Einstein’s dreams turned out to be completely accurate and mathematically perfect when his seemingly outrageous theories of General Relativity and Special Relativity were tested scientifically. They changed science and the world. He often said that his laboratory was his mind, a pad and a pencil. A real dreamer’s dreamer.
There was once an American dreamer who shared his dream with the world. He never lived to see it come true, but Dr. Martin Luther King dreamt of a world where his children would be judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin. Forty five years later America took him up on that challenge and elected Barack Obama to be our next president, the first African-American to gain that office and an event that was unthinkable in 1963. Martin Luther King was assassinated five years after delivering that speech, and he seemed to know his life would be a short one because of his dreams and his activities, but he never hesitated to share his dreams and labor to attain them, not just for himself, but for all men, the oppressed and the oppressors alike, that we all might live in a better world.
His dreams and his untiring efforts to achieve them had already been instrumental in the passage of the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the National Voting Rights Act of 1965. In his last great speech on April 3,1968, the day before before his death, he spoke candidly of not making it to the fulfillment of his dream, and how that mattered very little in the great scheme of things. He did not fear the dream killers, and granted them no power over him. The Dream was out there, it was public property. The Dream was growing and would not die with Martin Luther King, in spite of mighty efforts by those who would crush his dream. On January 20, 2009, a huge part of a dreamer’s dream comes true, and the world is changed for the better once again. And so we dream again, and see what else we can change.