Sometimes writers state the obvious, like this statement: We live in a scary world.
The evidence of this "scariness" can be found in the headlines of any newspaper big or small, print or electronic. We live in a world that has, somewhere, war and hunger and poverty and pestilence. But then, when in all of human history didn't the world contain these things?
The carnage of war, the ravages of hunger and poverty, and the virulence of disease cause hardship to countless scores of people somewhere on our planet every day. It's a heavy burden with which to occupy our thoughts. So, in this miasma of darkness, where is the beacon of dreams? Hopes of something peaceful and abundant and clean? Is it merely pie-in-the-sky to think these darknesses can be extinguished by the light of dreams?
However, could it be that hardships are what seed fields of dreams? Are dreams of peace and opportunity merely pie-in-the-sky, the very definition of which is something pleasant to think on but unlikely to ever come to pass?
No one argues that currently we don't live in a world of warfare. As this is written there is war somewhere. What about a dream of a world without war? Is it pie-in-the-sky to think that nations could lay down their arms and forever after find peaceful means to settle disputes? Must pain and death always be part of the tete a'tete of disagreement? The flavor of this pie is one where the next generation knows no war. No bombs. No secret incursions and no half-veiled threats of annihilation. A pie whose flavor is so sweet that no group of people would ever consider erasing another group off the face of the planet. Let's have some ice cream with that pie.
Is toleration, acceptance of one another's differences, pie-in-the-sky? What about dreams of human beings embracing one another because they realize they truly are all the same: human beings. Dreams where age, race and gender are not descriptors of personhood. Dreams where personhood is recognized as individual, unique and celebrated as such. Now that is a slice of a pie of another flavor! A slice worthy of two scoops of ice cream covered in chocolate sauce.
My grandmother called them daydreams. And she encouraged them.
When young, my dreams were all about me -- how I'd be a famous horticulturist someday or how I'd travel to Tibet just to say I'd been there. Now, in the third quarter of my life, I have discovered that the process of aging has some wonderful attributes; and one of those is that it broadens your dreams. Oh, I still would like to go to Tibet -- which is a very real pie-in-the-sky never-going-to-happen dream.
I also dream of a world in which the rancid cloud of nuclear threat disperses like a winter fog when the sun comes up. This slice, like fresh pumpkin pie at Christmas, makes me sigh. It looks so delicious I can't wait to experience the flavor. I know a person who presently is only 2.5 years old. She knows nothing of nuclear bombs and what they do to people and the environment. This is a slice of pie whose ingredients guarantee she never would. This is a particular dream I fervently wish everyone shared.
Human beings are capable of so much more than greed and envy, power mongering and cruelty. Humans are capable of bringing a pie-in-the-sky idea down to earth and realizing it. We are capable of kindness and generosity and thinking outside-the-box. Humans are capable of innovation and pure pull-an-idea out of thin air invention. If we can invent, can we not disinvent? Is it just a daydream to think that tanks can be repurposed as plowshares? This alone would help dispel the darkness of hunger.
And what of pestilence? Without war, hunger and poverty eating precious resources both material and human, those resources could be utilized to realize dreams of cures and treatments for plagues big and small. That is a pie-in-the-sky dream that could be made real.
This writer is one not so naive as to think human nature will change. However she is one who is hopeful enough to think it possible. One key thing would need to change at the pie shop, though. That one thing is this: As long as the lowest denominator among us is capable of malice towards his or her brother or sister, the pies will forever stay in the sky. I am dreaming of an equation that raises the bar on our basest nature.
Daydreams and pie -- a great pairing for an afternoon of musing.