What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun,
Or fester like a sore-
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat
Or crust and sugar over,
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
All over the world there are men and women who hunger and thirst for the greater dream of a more rational, more just, a greener and peaceful planet. But those who hoped for a sighting, even a glimpse of the dream coming to fruition, a reflection of human intellectual, moral and spiritual progress have been sorely disappointed. History continues to be written otherwise! Even if the dream is dismissed as unrealistic and romantically naive by many, the question continues to mock and haunt every pretension of civilization! Why is it not possible for humankind to progress beyond the tyrannies of militarism, terrorism, war, social injustice, destructive environmental exploitation and the political, economic and cultural hegemony that inevitably attempts to dominate every generation in its time?
While the dream appears foolishly idealistic, the utopian vision somehow tenaciously survives; if only to provide both a conception of progress and the uncomfortable reminder that however sincere ones hopes, aspirations and efforts may be, the means to achieve such ends have perpetually eluded the defining, predominant values of mankind.
However one may work towards the dream of peace, of green and sustainable values, of social and economic justice, of harmony and co-operation among peoples of the earth, the world continues to arm for conflict, destructive environmental exploitation continues to dangerously degrade the natural world while societies fracture into extremes of rich and poor.
Ever as the dream sustains a flicker of hope, it has never been more self-evident that mankind is unable to achieve the dream by any means or measure of its own understanding, founded upon its own conceptions of value, morality, knowledge, truth and logic.
Whatever notions of idealism a people, culture or nation have built upon, whatever the sum of human knowledge, achievement and understanding, whatever cultural veneer arts contribute or religious claims pretend the world is none the better. And what choices exist between any political, religious or intellectual tradition, when like a 'slow reckoning', the planet's very capacity to sustain existence is coming under threat?
The dream appears further out of reach then ever before and remains only for fools to imagine. For every historical attempt at constructing such a culture has not only failed, but to a greater or lesser extent, perverted and disgraced the very spirit of those hopes which inspire it.
Unrealized, the dream continues to exist much like a mountain yet to be climbed or a distant, unknown and undiscovered country; a land yet to be explored, whose seas remain to be crossed and charted. For humankind in its laborious and bloody search for progress have yet to demonstrate the insights or wisdom to even approach her shores, much less set foot on her beaches! Here the world remains holed and stranded on the rocks of its own myths and vanities, unable to perceive and transcend its condition, confounded somewhere between fear and desire, aspiration and material perception. And progress, modernity's central enlightenment theme burns less and less bright; the path of human development drifting inexorably towards its own self made hell!
So much for that unfinished exodus from ignorance, obscurantism and illusion referred to rather suspiciously today as the Enlightenment; while war and potential nuclear conflict, global organized crime and terrorism, sectarian violence, economic exploitation, famine, plague, pandemic and severe environmental damage overshadows, threatens and darkens what precious little light there is.
Not long ending what is universally agreed to be the bloodiest and most destructive century in human history and still early on into the new millennium, with little new hope but much foreboding, with issues so pressing, so urgent, so grave and divisive the world can barely discuss them let alone address and resolve them, where does progress come from? To dream is not enough and does little to satisfy the deepest longings of a soul for the means to see that new landfall on the horizon.Previous
But in a world of realpolitik, dreaming is little more than a fools game for those who keep their idealism within the limits which any culture allows for questioning, expression and change. Any hope of realizing the greatest of civilized goals from within existing political realities is just so much smoke and mirrors. Transforming the materialist status quo remains an unfathomable conundrum for minds which continue to imagine and dream of something greater, the means which remain a mystery to those who against the stream remain inspired by the vision.
What constrains the highest of human aspirations is rarely imagined but if the catalyst with the necessary authority to realize the dream were ever revealed, who would care enough to believe with sufficient courage and conviction to act? Unfortunately the world has usually preferred the soft, the easy and more convenient ways of intellectual vanity, political correctness and spiritual confectionery than the honesty and courage to confront human nature itself!
Others sat on a hill retired
In thoughts more elevate and reasoned high,
Of providence, foreknowledge, will and fate,
Fix'd fate, free will and foreknowledge absolute,
and found no end in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then,
of happiness and final misery,
Passion and apathy and glory and shame
Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy.
John Milton: Paradise Lost
For dreamers and fools only