We have dreams, hopes for our individual and collective futures. It is timely, in the upheaval of this shifting season of change, to be reminded of the truth of the words of one of our culture’s most celebrated voices, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: "We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now."
Like it or not, the reality is that the boat Dr. King speaks of – our country, this planet – must make room for, hold equally, feed, and protect us as one. For some, this boat has been or become an uncomfortable, chaotic, even frightening vessel. For others, it may seem as if the boat is finally finding its true course. In either way of believing and behaving, the present currents of distinctly divergent agendas are propelling us all into more turbulent waters.
My dreams and hopes are important to me, just as yours are to you. As I think about how to chart my own course in order to not lose my dreams to cynicism or hopelessness, anger or fear, I think about another often quoted and beloved voice – that of Mohandas Gandhi. To not only hold on to our dreams but to also advance them and walk into their visions of a future, we must communicate them . . . both with the like-minded as well as with those who hold very different versions for our common journey.
Gandhi’s words can start me – all of us – toward a path of communicating and living our dreams: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Is that oft-quoted sentence a clean and easy map for charting a 21st century course? Certainly not. Still, the idea is so worthy, so clearly true when we remember important change can happen one committed individual at a time. There are no magic words . . . no sleight of hand . . . no enchanted wands to wave. There are only the courageous possibilities spoken by one or two, three or four at a time – by members within our one-world family continuously giving voice to dreams that promote and serve our best, unselfish selves.
And there must always be hope and the strength to behave as if we believe change is possible. Hope empowers us to trust that our dreams are real and attainable; to remember we share vital space and time with others whose hopes are equally real but shaped differently; to keep our hearts and minds open and ready to move beyond the seats we now occupy on this common boat; to proactively work for a place powered by kindness, justice, fairness, peace, and concern for all; and to find the strength to model, every waking hour, the change we want to live within.
I turned to Gandhi again and discovered a way of responding to those with whom I agree and those I don’t . . . during easier conversations as well as the ones I hope never to have again. Because I have to believe anything is possible, I’m working to make these ideas the underpinnings of all my behaviors. Three simple phrases to remind me I can always be authentically honest while remaining open to others: Be Truthful; Be Gentle; Be Fearless. There it is – my hope for navigating the waters of 2017.