WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING…THE DREAM DIED

While you were sleeping, the dream died.  I don’t really care who you are. While you were sleeping, the dream died. It doesn’t matter where you live in the United States. You slept. You dreamed. While you were sleeping, the dream died.

How can I make such a statement?  Dreams are the stuff of private fantasy.  Dreams are very personal. Dreams, in general serve a function of clearing the subconscious. Dreams are a euphemism of our hopes.  They represent things that often are just out of reach.  Dreams are often shared as goals.

When faced with a query regarding our thoughts about the future, it is easy to respond…

I can dream, can’t I

I have lived a full life.  I have been privileged to grow up right outside our Nation’s Capital.  When I was born, my parents were renting an apartment on Porter St in NW Washington, D.C.  They moved to Adams Morgan and when the landlord refused to renew the lease, they bought their first and only home in nearby Silver Spring, Md.

When I was just a boy, I dreamed of Peter Pan and Frank Buck.  I wanted to traverse the jungles and “Bring’em back alive”.  I spent nights perched in my windowsill waiting for the magic ship to arrive.  When we moved to the suburbs, I dreamed of riding Man o’ War or becoming the next Mickey Mantle.  I was no different than any other little boy. I had dreams.

I got older and my dreams changed.  Reality became somewhat of a censor.  I wasn’t going to college unless some benefactor showed up at my front door with a check for a million dollars.  My parents had a budgeting problem that involved spending all of their discretionary income on Scotch, Rye, Gallo and Old German larger. There was no college fund and no direction.  When I asked my father, ” how will I go to college?”, he answered, “I guess you will ride your bike.”

The world was going through changes.  We had a new President and Camelot fueled dreams of better future. The one day, time stood still.  The Russian ships were approaching our ships that were blockading Cuba.  Students sat around the cafeteria as the updates were shared over the school loudspeaker.

The standoff created a new field of dreams.  Bomb shelters in backyards that were the rage in the 50’s began to look like a good idea again.  The future is now became a theme then, long before George Allen shared the refrain speaking of his Redskins.  As seconds ticked by, the Nation watched. And then it was over, the crisis passed, we could dream again.

THEN

A dark day in Dallas.

Our hero was slain. Racial strife came to a head.  Civil rights became to focal point. I found comfort in and purpose in joining the battle. So I moved on, graduated from high school and joined the Marines.  Vietnam raged somewhere in the world.  I was a young man, member of the students for a democratic society, enlisted in the strongest fighting machine in the country.  Our goals were at odds.  I dreamed of peace.  I woke to war. The dream died.

I paid the price for my beliefs.  I came home.  The nation was divided.  Changes in the political landscape and mood of the public at large had created an unsettled home land.  An entire group of people were demanding that the nation make good on the laws that had been passed.  Jim Crow was being challenged throughout the South.  Our involvement in Vietnam was being characterized as fruitless on the nightly news.  The summer of 1968 began with the hope for peace at home and abroad.

Then the dream died

Not once

Twice

The America I grew up in changed in the course of a few weeks time.  Somehow, we had become a Nation where leaders were gunned down.  The leaders died, but bullets could not kill the dream.  Dreams are founded in ideas. You can not kill an idea with a bullet, it must be replaced with another idea.

We raced through the rest of the 20th century.  Solid reporting was replaced with talking head sound bytes.  The body politic became less concerned with doing the right thing and more focused on following opinion polls.  The right thing is not always popular, opinion polls support re-election.  Those in office became more self serving rather than constituent serving.  The country began it’s slide.  More dreams began to die.

So, our focus became “over there”.  Hot spots erupted in every corner of the world.  Troops were deployed here, there and everywhere.  Oil supplies were shut off and on at the whim of producers overseas. We face challenges in every port.  Headlines were filled with attacks and massacres.  We feared them. We never quite knew who the “them” was but we feared them. Then in the mid-90’s, the dream died.

Somehow, we became them.

We became our own terrorists.  American’s planned and executed a terrorist attack in Oklahoma City.  Now, we were them and we had to become afraid of ourselves.  Those called upon to protect us had to watch them and us.  The peace we had once enjoyed was replaced with vigilance. Times were changing. Then while much of the country was sleeping… the dream died.

It was them again

We were faced with the possibility of attack here, on our soil.  Those charged with the duty of protecting us had to up the effort.  Homeland security became the buzz word and we were told to buy duct tape and prepare for the worst.  Days became an exercise in monitoring the color coded terror level proclamations.  Looking for rest, you slept. While you were sleeping…the dream died.  The largest recorded storm raged through the Gulf of Mexico and took dead aim on the Gulf Coast.

Fear from them, fear from us

now… fear from Mother Nature

We sat on our couch and wondered, where is the help… where is the aid.  The images were not from far away land. This was America.  These were Americans.  Where were those charged with protecting us?

Years go by, cars are recalled.  Lettuce is recalled.  Baby cribs are recalled.  People are dying in car crashes. People are getting sick and dying from food purchased here.  Government oversight is either incompetent or in collusion with manufactures and producers.  We expected to shop safely. The dream died.

Home ownership collapsed

The next bubble that popped was the housing market.  One day, everybody was buying a home. The next, it seemed that nobody could pay for a home.  We have watched the “american dream” become a nightmare.  In a few short years, the dream died.

So it seems that every turn has revealed one more dream that has died.  You are not safe over there.  You are not safe over here.  Under armed soldiers have been deployed over there.  Under scrutinized police are deployed here. Little business’s have been buried beneath paperwork and an inability to compete with major stores.  Major stores have opened and closed large box stores here and there.  The purchase of a major appliance or auto is fraught with fear.  The thought of buying a home is paralyzed by doubts about the economy.  Many of you after a long hard day just want to go home and sleep.  You wake up and look forward to a nice breakfast before starting the next day.

I can only imagine that is what a good friend of mine out in California thought a few weeks ago.  She probably sat down to an every day breakfast and watched the Pacific surf roll it to the shore.  There is always so much hope in the morning.  My friend died.  My friend was found dead … alone.  The cause of death is thought to be salmonella poisoning.  My friend did not have health insurance.  My friend was a real estate agent and could not afford an individual health insurance policy.  My friend thought it was o.k. to eat some eggs for breakfast.  My friend dreamed that things were getting better and those charged to protect us were doing a better job.  My friend did not realize, while you were sleeping…the dream died.

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