Dreams and Visions

It's been a while... More recently because I've been on holiday. Before that because unless I was writing something for another context I was becoming more wary of being yet another megaphone commentator on the issues of the day, be it gay marriage, gay cakes, the election, bonfires etc, where my online comments were not matched by action or discussions in the real world, or might have hindered such actions or conversations. I am so tired of polemic and ranting (including my own) that ultimately achieves nothing or simply reinforces divisions, and increasingly that is what the media and especially social media is full of.
However, we do need genuine opinion formers in the public sphere who are able to articulate a vision for doing things differently at a local, national and global level, and they are few and far between.
During our holiday in the US we visited the Washington DC, and saw the Lincoln Memorial, scene of Martin Luther King Junior's famous, "I have a dream" speech, and the grave of JFK at Arlington National Cemetery... Lincoln, King and Kennedy all had clear visions of where they wanted their country to go and actively worked to make that dream a reality. When he first appeared on the global scene Presidential wannabe Barack Obama seemed to be in that mould as he articulated a "hope-filled" vision of how things might be... For a long time and for various reasons his rhetoric has not fully matched reality, although there are signs that in the latter stretch of his administration he is seeking to make up for lost time.
But whilst in DC I was also reading a piece of trashy fiction by Justin Cartwright - "Lionheart" - a Dan Brown-esque book based on the story of King Richard I (only read it if you are picking it up cheap in a charity shop, and have absolutely nothing better to read), and apart from prompting me to read more about the real histoy of that iconic King, it made me think when the central character writes:
"When Obama talks about the American Dream, as though it is something real and wonderful, rather than what it is , just a figure of speech, I can't help thinking that this contains within it the assumption that the dreams of other nations, say Palestine or Britain even, are not even in the same league. Only America is in the major league of dreams."
There is a certain truth in this, and we in the "old world" can comment cynically about the teenage idealism of the global youngster that is the USA. Personally I am not convinced by some elements of the so-called "American Dream", which seems to be too closely wedded to individualism and consumeristic capitalism, but at the same time I long for leaders in the UK and Northern Ireland who will both articulate a clear hope-filled vision of the future and strategically work with others against established gatekeepers and powerbrokers to achieve that vision. Yet what we persistently get are those who pedal fear and feed the demons that lie at the heart of established power blocks, be they left or right, green or orange, Christian or secularist...From a Christian point of view I long to see the promised pentecostal fulfilment of Joel's prophecy where our "young men will see visions," and our "old men will dream dreams."
This old man dreams of 
  •  a province where politicians really seek the common good and don't just pander to the extremes, genuinely engaging with bread and butter issues like education, health, transport and the environment that will make a real difference to the lives of generations to come...
  • a nation that is more interested in wellbeing than income generation, both at a personal and governmental level. That is not to decry the importance of economics for wellbeing, but to see things in a much more holistic, healthy fashion...
  • a church that is more focussed on those outside our doors than those inside, with a greater emphasis on love than on law... Where all people feel welcome and able to articulate their hopes, their dreams, their fears and their failings without experiencing condemnation or condescension...

That's enough to begin with...


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