12/14/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

In Defense of the 2009 (and Beyond) 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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