Big Dreams and Facing Facts

Facts often block the way for wishes, desires, and dreams. Facts dig wide trenches between here and there…between now and then…filling the channels with acid and alligators and creatures hungry to tear hopes into lifeless memories.

Those damn facts! Why won’t they conform to my view of the world? Why do I wake up each day to realize the nightmare was not a dream? Facts, with their razor-sharp teeth that shred aspirations into frayed ribbons, hamper our ability to live the fairy-tale existence we’ve come to expect. Facts interfere with the delusion that our privilege was earned and will last forever.

“Ah, buck up, Sport! That morose attitude has no place in an environment stoked with costume jewelry and assorted other shiny accoutrements of wishful thinking! Leave those negative thoughts behind you and enter our magical kingdom! Waltz in through the massive doors of our castle built of sand and enjoy a rich and rewarding fantasy life!”

Yes, that’s what we’ve heard most of our lives. Everything will be all right. Never fear, some sort of supreme, magical being will swoop down and protect us from reality. Then, later, we’ll get on a conveyor belt that will deliver us either to Heaven (if we’ve been blindly obedient to a rigid dogma designed in part to thwart curiosity) or Hell (if we’ve dared challenge that dogma). If the former, the remainder of eternity will be spent among billions and billions of dreamily happy ancestors who float along in bliss, as if they have been fed LSD. If the latter, we will burn in excruciating agony for the remainder of time and then some.

I’m drifting away from my original thoughts; I know that. Although my original thoughts may not have been what I believed them to be. I thought I was lamenting the intrusion of facts into my dream world. But, in fact, I was just introducing the idea that we must get over what we wish for and, instead, focus our attention on what we can realistically achieve, given the facts before us. Yes, we can bellyache about the injustices confronting us and everyone else but, unless we are satisfied with bitching and moaning without accomplishing a damn thing, we need to shake ourselves awake and do what is doable.

First and foremost, and this is hard (for me, anyway), obstacles should be viewed as opportunities for creativity. How can we get around, through, over, under the challenge? With respect to the current impediments to our happiness (i.e., the coronavirus pandemic) and its impact on our economy, the intelligent response is NOT to hurry up and go back to the way we were before. That will only result in thousands more people sick and dead and an already overstretched healthcare system finally collapsing under the stress. I think we need to focus on how we can radically alter the way we go about engaging in productive work, in social interactions, and in viewing the world in which we live.

I think a global effort, a thousand-fold bigger and more aggressive than the Manhattan Project of World War II, should be undertaken to remake human society. The participants in the effort should be the brightest, boldest, most audacious thinkers of our time. They should come from every field of human endeavor, from medicine to transportation to psychology to engineering to sanitation to…on and on and on. Their mission should be to transform planet Earth into a place in which every human being is adequately clothed, fed, housed, free to act in her own interests and in the interests of other people, and protected from disease to the extent humanly possible; and every stream and field and ocean is maintained in as near a natural state as possible. This elite group (which is the wrong term, really, in that its members will include slum dwellers with expertise in “making do”) would also be tasked with the objective of eliminating artificial borders. Pie in the sky? Of course! But with such grand and boundless objectives, even partial success would catapult humanity toward a more just and robust future.

The primary hindrance to beginning such a grand global effort is the lack of leadership. The only world political leaders who come to mind who might be capable of guiding such an enormous undertaking are Angela Merkel of Germany, Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Justin Trudeau of Canada,  Barack Obama of the United States, and Michel Suleiman of Lebanon. This list, obviously incomplete, is lacking representation from Asia and Africa. Inasmuch as one of the objectives should be the dissolution of artificial borders, that might be acceptable; but it’s not, in my view. And the leadership group needs to include representation of deeply oppressed people, such as impoverished Salvadorans and the Uyghurs of China. The group should be as diverse as the people of the planet.

Aside from a lack of leadership is the presence of a malignant leadership in the person of the president of the United States. No progress of any consequence can be made until he is removed from office and his voice silenced on the world stage. As far as I’m concerned, he could be allowed to bellow all he wants within the four walls of his tiny dark cell.

I cannot continue this diatribe at the moment, as much as I think its direction paints an increasingly important picture of where we (the people of Planet Earth) need to go. Maybe I’ll come back to it with a more coherent and specific “plan of action.”


Ach! It’s 6:20 and the temperature, according to my computer weather widget, is fifty degrees. Cloudy this morning, with rain developing this afternoon. I might try to power wash the deck this morning, though that might not be a good idea, given my breathing difficulties of late. I do need to take care of several other tasks around the house. So I shall.


We had a great Zoom chat yesterday afternoon with our good friends who live (in isolation) in Fort Smith. We all agreed to do it again in a week. Our mutual reciprocal visits have been put on indefinite hold until the world has righted itself. I hope we all live that long.


I hope my mood improves today. I’ve been trying to smile and be cheerful, but it’s increasingly difficult to fake it. But I shall work on that. Now, more coffee and, perhaps, an entirely new approach to breakfast.


I decided to come back to write a little more after I watched and listened to our virtual church service this morning. The minister gave the congregation a charge to do what we can, today from our homes, to make the world a more just and loving place. I realize the jeremiad I wrote earlier had the seeds of justice and love in it, but I sliced off the gentle twigs just after they sprouted. I will return, today, to the positive elements of my screed. And I will reach out to someone today to try to make their world a little better; more just and more loving.  Would that we all do that.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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