In modern times, the most famous words ever written about dreams came from the pen of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech on August 28, 1963. "I have a dream…" he said, and you know the rest. His dream led to a sea-change in America’s society, culture and government. We are a better nation because that man dreamed and dreamed big.
Dreams, they are a funny thing, frightening to many, enlightening to others and entertaining to still others. I, for one, enjoy my dreams. In them, I’ve hobnobbed with the famous and traveled the world. But tell me, did you ever wake up mad as all get-out with your spouse when he or she was up to no good in your dream? It has happened here a time or two, and morning coffee suffers an unusual chill, until one of us concedes it was only a dream. Making up is the good part.
Stenciled onto a wall in the new Nelson Heights Community Center are a number of uplifting lines to inspire the kids who’ll be tutored there under the auspices of the successful Washington Street Community Center. One of them is: "Dream until your dreams come true." Dreams don’t just happen in the dead of night, to be scrutinized in the light of day for clues about secret longings or issues yet to be addressed. Daytime dreaming provides focus and directions for lives and empires that might be built. Does anyone think Bill Gates wasn’t a dreamer? At some point, he was probably derided for being out of touch with reality, as many daytime dreamers are. Bill Gates simply dreamed up a new reality.
Everything we use, hold, live in, drive, sit on, wear, communicate with, give, receive and possess is the result of a dream someone had, a thought that began with a need to be fulfilled or a want to be satisfied. We’ll, of course, give God full credit for dreaming up all that grows in the ground and the sea, creatures that fly in the air or walk or slither on the ground, the color of the sky, sunsets and sunrises, the Georgia red clay, white sands and blue seas. And even God had dreamed of companionship, it says in the Bible, and so we came to be: science says by evolution, while many of the faithful claim creation theory. But I digress.
Let’s talk about dreamers who really don’t have a grip on reality. Cambodia’s prime minister has announced plans for that government to build the tallest structure in all of Asia, a 1,820-foot skyscraper in Phnom Penh. Estimates from the company picked for the project suggest a cost of $200 million, but the current record-holding Asian skyscraper in Taiwan, 1,667-feet, ultimately cost in the range of $1.6 billion. This is in a poverty-ridden country of 14 million people who suffer a high mortality rate due to the prevalence of AIDS, where 50 percent of the population is under the age of 21 and lacking basic education and skills to hold a good job, if jobs there were. The country itself is almost bereft of basic infrastructure, despite an abundance of natural resources. Tell me, just tell me, how a record-breaking skyscraper is going to benefit the populace and that economy. Such foolishness is disturbing and outrageous, but it may just be a game of smoke and mirrors the country is playing. If the prime minister can keep the people looking skyward, they’ll forget to look down and around at all they and the country lack.
Smoke and mirror games happen here too. One of the saddest and most divisive games was the decision to go to war in Iraq. The rules were: create a lot of smoke using lies, bombs and lives and don’t ever look in the mirror. That "war" has been declared over, but will it ever really be over? Dream on.
Barbara Morgan is a resident of Covington with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. Her column appears on Fridays.