Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012.07.29 Dream On?

I dreamed a lot as a kid, day and night, always about things I wanted to do or be or accomplish. I was lucky enough to have enough happiness, enough creativity and imagination, and enough intelligence to dream—and read many books.

After the fairy princess/ballerina/moviestar phase,  I settled into the dream of having children and being a mother. The children made my dreams. Then I discovered no one paid for motherhood or gave it much recognition, so I thought it would be better to be a man. That one didn't last long, but I did invade the sanctuary of an all-male profession, priesthood, and discovered it wasn't that much fun to be a parish "Father"—too lonely.

Every dream I've had I've worked hard to help along, revise and tweak, and get help with.

We all dream dreams. It's what keeps us alive and vital. Even on my death bed I bet I'll be conjuring heaven and dream of meeting God and Jesus.

America was founded on a dream: liberty and justice and land, land, land. It was once bright and shiny and inviting— available to all citizens. Now it has turned to pablum spooned out by the unawares, the power-hungry, the ignorant, and the too-busy-scraping-basic-livelihood-together-to-notice.

Liberty has turned into license and arbitrary violence. Justice is an illusion because there is no peace on our streets. And land has morphed into private property that includes trophy homes and gated communities where we get isolated and insulated and mistake it for individual freedom. 

The Occupy Movement of 2011 raised awareness about classism and increasing economic inequity, which means less mobility. Less is available to a greater number of citizens than ever before. 99% of us is falling fast out of the amenic middle class. It scares me to read about it but I am able to live comfortably enough not to really feel it.

Paul Krugman in his NY Times commentary on Jan 16, 2012, Martin Luther King day, wrote: “Mitt Romney says that we should discuss income inequality, if at all, only in “quiet rooms. There was a time when people said the same thing about racial inequality. [They said it about gender inequality, too, and still are.] Luckily, however, there were people like Martin Luther King who refused to stay quiet. And we should follow their example today. For the fact is that rising inequality threatens to make America a different and worse place — and we need to reverse that trend to preserve both our values and our dreams.”

Has our so-called dream become a lie?

Maybe we need to focus less on owning homes and more on being at home together.

Loneliness is a first sign of the waning of a dream.  Are Americans lonely? 

I'm lucky not to feel loneliness much, in part because I'm an introvert, and in part because I have a spouse I like. We convene the day and the evening together.  And my dream of getting a memoir published, though dim, isn't extinguished. 

Also I have a church community, a bunch of people who come together weekly to pray, sing, learn, and gather around a table to eat blessed food, after which they gratefully move to another no less sacred space to drink coffee or lemonade and eat "tapas."

The Christian church has a dream, of a God whose spaciousness knows no bounds. We learned it from Jesus. We try to practice the vision, yet sometimes we are too isolated in our own ways and community that, just like the nation, we forget to dream beyond ourselves. To complicate matters the church has gotten allergic to much if any mention of sin, awareness of the dreams of others. 

Israel, like America, had, still has, a dream. Call it a home of your own.  It's less about ownership than it is about identity, meaning, self-governance, and healing a long history of displacement, persecution, execution, and being scapegoats. I asked a young rabbi once why Jews kept getting blamed, almost no matter what happens.   “It’s because we’re exclusive, think we’re special,” he said.  Well, my God, listen to the braying of some Christians!  And some Americans!

But once Jews got their homeland in 1948 their homeland security politics have run wildly beyond security.  Palestinian land has been seized; refugee camps are established with curfews and locked gates; moving from place to place requires going through checkpoints, some of them now “flying” (you don’t know where they will pop up); mountaintop surveillance station feeling like”big daddy;” Palestinians who dream of a return to their land,  elected a terrorist regime Hamas: and worst of all a Wall of Separation, the amen to mutual loneliness. I saw it and wept.

I asked a local politician, a liberal one, about U.S. Israel/Palestine policy. I received a firm reiteration of our alliance to Israel and a justification of military power tactics as "maintaining a qualitative military edge."

Are we as appallingly ignorant of the spaciousness of our own dreams as we are of Israel/Palestine's?

The feeling of threat, whether real or imagined, kills the soul and with it the land.  Sin is as organic as love; it multiplies.

Israelis are, once again and understandably, afraid. So are Americans. So are Palestinians. So am I. I pray daily that God, who created land and leased it to humanity as blessing, will transform the hearts and minds of leaders and people ( it doesn’t matter which comes first)  from fear to humility.
Either dreams are not a good idea at all, except in sleep, or we need help to listen to and respect the dreams of our neighbors, far and near. 

Our Jewish next-door neighbor, the one who is a beautiful singer and who has never been to Israel,  came over to sing a Christian liturgical chant she’d prepared for us as a send off on our Israel pilgrimage.

Yes!  Dream on.