I Have A Dream

I have a dream… a great and far-extending dream.

Lincoln Memorial I Have a Dream Marker 2413

I dream of a world where people are not trapped on a consumerist treadmill – either as consumers or consumed. A world where everyone has enough, and no-one is weighed down by too much. A world that values quality above quantity. A world where beauty is seen in individuality, both in people and in things. Standardization is an excellent thing in a cup measure but it is not a measure for humans.

I dream of a world in which people are not trafficked to feed the desires of others, whether for cheap goods, sex, or service. A world where the innate dignity of human-ness is respected. A world where sex is a matter of mutual committed love, not a matter of force or a financial transaction.

I dream of a world where people are not treated as interchangeable units, but valued for their individual talents. A world where the educational systems encourage those talents to flourish, so they can be used for the benefit of all, and not merely the profit of one’s employer. A world where everyone has something to do, and can experience the satisfaction of a job well done. A world where work is a right and a blessing, not an onerous burden or a forlorn hope.

look up

I dream of a world where people are rewarded for the value of their work rather than the prestige of it. A world where people are considered of greater importance than efficiency, profitability and wealth. A world where the economy serves the people, not the other way around. A world where governments act in their people’s best interests, rather than compelling the people to act in their government’s best interests.

A world without corruption. A world where the justice systems provide justice, but are not deaf to mercy; a world where sentences are aimed at restoration and rehabilitation, not at retribution and revenge. A world where laws are simple (and few) enough to be understood by all, and founded on fairness and common-sense, rather than the preferences of powerful lobbies.

A world where there is enough food for everyone, food that is healthy both for the people who eat it, and the land which produces it. A world that is tended like a garden, not hunted down like prey. A world where housing, clothing, and all the necessities and joys of life are produced in ways that harm neither the environment nor the people which produce them, nor those people who eventually use them.

I dream of a world where people do not have to risk their lives to seek a better life for themselves or their children; a world where people in need are not smuggled across borders or turned back with violence, but welcomed with open arms and open hands. I dream of a world where the right to live is not conditional on the acceptance of others.

Ivan Kulikov Dreamer

I dream of a world which experiences the peace which is more than the absence of war; a world where even interpersonal conflicts are handled with grace. A world where people are taught the life skills they really need: how to care for themselves and their families, how to manage their resources well, how to have healthy relationships. A world where communities are stronger than corporations.

I dream of a world where people with mental or physical disabilities are not marginalized, dehumanized, or hidden away; but rather treated as human beings just like the rest of us: different, but the same.

I dream of a world where medical systems are not understaffed, overworked, over-prescribing or over-standardized, but able to treat each person individually, taking the time to help them understand the situation and their options, and to be an active participant in their healing rather than the passive undergoer of standardized treatment.

There is more to this dream than I can say, and people have used many different words to try to sum up different parts of it. Lagom. Environmentally friendly. Fair Trade. Boundaries. Open borders. Restorative justice. Abolition.
But I have one phrase which sums this all up for me: the kingdom of God.

Wickham Market Hoard

The kingdom of God, Jesus said, is like a treasure buried in a field. When a man found it, he sold off everything he had just so he could buy that field, and possess the treasure within it.
And this is a dream that is worth giving up everything for.

I can’t make this dream come true all by myself, I know that. But I can work on the parts of it that are given me to affect, and encourage those who I recognize as working on it too. I really do believe there is nothing more worth doing with the one life given to me.

If something is not worth dying for, it’s not worth living for either, because either way you are giving your life to it.
What dream are you giving your life to?

7 Lies About Love

Love is a subject on which a great deal has been said and written. Unfortunately, a lot of what is said, read and believed about love is a load of σκύβαλον.

Here are seven lies about love that are all too often taken for truth.

Love Hurts

Lie #1: There is only one person you can be happy with: your One True Love
Where do I even start with this? For one thing, “true love” originally meant someone who loved you and was faithful (“true”) to you. That’s it. Hence the lyrics of Scarborough Fair in which the narrator enumerates various tasks which need to be done before the once-true love can be a true love again – all equally impossible. (There is no such thing as “mostly faithful”.) Is there only one person in the world who would be faithful to you? I doubt it.

My Ice-Cream Theory of Relational Compatibility suggests that most people could be happy in a relationship with ‘most anyone. It goes like this: if you get a two-scoop ice-cream, most flavours will go with most other flavours. But some flavours are particularly distinct and only go with a limited number of other flavours. On the other hand, sometimes you get unexpected combinations that, to everyone’s surprise, actually work.
And so with people. Most people could be happy with almost anyone; some people have a smaller pool of possibles to work with; and some pairings work when everyone expects them to fail.

Icecream Cone

Lie #2: If you’re with your O.T.L., It Just Happens
There isn’t only One Person you can be happy with if you work at it; conversely, there isn’t a single person you could be happy with if you don’t. Relationships, like most living things, need to be tended, and not just by one half of the equation. Michael Bublé has got it all wrong when he sings “You’ll make me work so we can work to work it out… I just haven’t met you yet.” There is no ideal person somewhere out there with whom he (or anyone else) could have a healthy relationship without even trying. Good relationships don’t just happen – they need to be maintained. Both people need to work at it or it’s never going to work.

Lie #3: Love is only found in a sexual relationship
There are many forms of love (for which, alas, English does not even begin to allow) and it is perfectly possible to live a life full of love without being in a sexual relationship. We do single people a disservice in thinking that they must lead a loveless life.
Nor is love to be found only in relationships that exclude all others. A friend can love more than one friend, a parent more than one child, and this is right and good. As Elinor Dashwood says, “after all that is bewitching in the idea of a single and constant attachment, and all that can be said of one’s happiness depending entirely on any particular person, it is not meant – it is not fit – it is not possible that it should be so.” It is too much to demand of any person, regardless of the exclusivity of the relationship, that they take full responsibility for your happiness.

Ein süßes Geheimnis von Adolf Hering, 1892

Lie #4: Love is the same as infatuation, and you are helpless before it
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love admits in her follow-up book, Committed, that it was not until after the failure of her first marriage that she realised that choice came into the matter at all. She had always felt that love was like the flu: if you got it you got it and there was nothing you could do about it. People who stayed together for a lifetime were just lucky they hadn’t fallen in love with anyone else, because of course, they would then have to leave their spouse for the new love.

This reduces love to little more than a hormone-induced feeling, and then puts it in charge of major life decisions. This is never a good idea. In fact, I would go so far as to say that any belief which leads you to think you do not have the ability to choose is an erroneous one.

You’ve probably heard it before, but love is not a feeling, it’s a conscious choice – which is why wedding vows can include the promise to love the other person until death do them part. You can’t promise a feeling, but you can promise that your actions will be in line with your conscious choice to love the other person.

Day 142: Late night bottle

Some people feel that it isn’t really love if it isn’t backed by “the feelings,” but consider another form of love: that of a parent for their infant. A loving parent gets up in the night to feed the baby. They may not be feeling the love at 3 a.m., but they are nonetheless being loving by meeting the baby’s needs. It’s the same with adults: when we promise to love another, we are promising to meet their need for love, whether we feel like it in the moment or not.

Lie #5: Love means never having to say you’re sorry
This lie, popularised by the novel (and subsequent film) Love Story, is a pernicious one. It not-so-subtly suggests that if someone really loves you, they will accept your ill-treatment of them without any apology or attempts to make things right on your part. It is the equally-evil twin of:

Lie #6: Love never says no
This is the lie that makes doormats of people. They let loved ones mistreat them – or mistreat themselves – because they think that if they refuse or rebuke their loved one, they aren’t loving them.

An itinerant salesman selling the doormats that are strapped Wellcome V0020367

Love – real love – is an unalterable insistence on what is best for the other person. Any parent can tell you that what someone wants, and what is best for them, are not necessarily the same thing. Learning that they can trample on someone with no unpleasant consequences is not good for anyone. (I highly recommend the book Boundaries for those who want to read more.)

Lie #7: Loving yourself is selfish and self-centred
Loving yourself is healthy. Loving only yourself is unhealthy. The oft-quoted command from the Law of Moses and the teachings of Jesus says “love others as you love yourself” – not love others instead of yourself, or love others more than yourself. Love others like you love yourself. There is no expectation that you will (or in fact can) love others when you don’t love yourself.

Love yourself

Are there other lies about love you think should be added to the list?

December: A Sense of Faith

Confession time: I didn’t think when this year began that I’d be able to withstand another year in the Dreaded Day Job. I cried, I begged, I pleaded, I fasted and prayed – and I stayed stuck. It was like fighting with the Tar-Baby – the more I fought the stucker I got (and like the Tar-Baby, He say nuthin’).

Twelve months on, and I’m still at the DDJ, and none of the myriad resignation letters I have composed in thought have yet been set to paper. (A question for any employment lawyers out there: what’s the legal status of an employee who sends in several different resignation letters in one envelope?) But the year has not been wasted.

Resignation Letter

During the year I have worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way.  (Although I did miss some exercises due to a bout of zombieism bronchitis and I did get a couple of months behind at one point.) This has involved fun things like starting a scrapbook, playing with bubbles and making a jester’s hat. Less enjoyably, there was the dire Week Without Reading. Never Again.

While I haven’t been exactly religious in my observance of the ‘basic tools’ of the Artist’s Way – morning pages and Artist’s Dates – I have used them, and found them useful. One of the best things about the Artist’s Way is that it’s adaptable – not everyone has to do it the same way. It’s alter-to-fit, not One Size Fits All (which it never does).

vintage-teal-dress-alteration

The exercises for Chapter 12 include restorative and expansive tasks like mending something (in my case a summer dress that I can now wear after 18 months in the mending pile) or repotting a plant. I have brought home Bob the Parlour Palm (named after my favourite Simpsons character) and am on the lookout for a larger pot for him.

In the meantime I shall remove the freesia bulbs which ended up in the same pot (long story) and give them a taste of the fridge. For some reason they sprout in autumn, bloom in winter and die off in spring. Are they hemispherically confused?
I dare to dream that bringing Bob home from the DDJ is just the beginning of the longed-for ritual of Cleaning Out The Desk.

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I am becoming unstuck. (Not in the two-sandwiches-short-of-a-picnic way. I think.) I wouldn’t say that the Artist’s Way is the key to creative freedom and the solution to all your problems, but it’s helped me push the boundaries of what I thought possible in my life – and to my delight, some of the boundaries give. (Although they do need to be pushed pretty hard…)

I am glad I did the Artist’s Way, and perhaps someday I shall do it again. But for now, I’m going to look back with gladness – and look forward with hope.