Thursday, March 19, 2015

In need of a dream

As I'm sure you've heard, an eighteen-year-old from Birmingham was stopped the other day whilst attempting to journey to Syria.  Yet another youth apparently eager to exchange the freedom of the west for the restraints of ISIS.

How many eager and gullible teenagers have tried, or are trying, to leave this country, each of them intent on joining the extremist rebel group?
I say 'gullible', and in many ways they are, but surely there's much more to it than that?
And why do we find it so hard to understand their actions?

Could it be, perhaps, that we've become hard-wired to modern, western values?

These teenagers are being excited by an old-fashioned concept that we rarely hear mentioned nowadays.  Whereas we are encouraged to be competitive, to go in search of success, financial remuneration and security, they are quite simply following a dream.
Lost in a world of hard facts, have we forgotten just how powerful a dream can be?

"I have a dream . . . " declared Martin Luther King.
All these years later his phrase continues to resonate.

And dreams aren't the preserve of the young . . .  all generations need them.  They provide a sustenance and power unobtainable from material wealth . . . not to mention the vital purpose and a creativity they bring to our lives.

What's more, have you noticed that dreams possess something totally lacking in the goals we're encouraged to seek?  The more dreams are distributed and shared, the more they multiply.  The wider they are spread, the greater and more powerful they become.  Material wealth, on the other hand . . . but I'm sure you see what I mean.

Look at the election campaign being waged at the moment.  Has there been anything on offer that would fire the ardour of an adolescent?  Any proposal that gives rise to dreams . . . to hope . . . to dedication . . . to personal sacrifice?

Quite the contrary.  With few exceptions, it can seem as though a hunger to hold power makes politicians resort to promises that are little more than a palliative for our fears, and a sop to our self-interest.  Promises that are directed more towards the anxious elderly than to idealistic adolescents . . . the elderly, it seems, are more likely to vote.

However much we may rightly deplore the tactics and cruelty of ISIS, the rebel group operates from conviction and an all-powerful sense of unity.  To teenagers, in a world dominated by political barracking, that's an inducement in itself.  It also provides a cause . . . and can we be wholly critical of young people who seek to unite with something bigger than their own self-interest?

Surely, if teenagers are to withstand the ISIS inducement, their hearts and minds need to be drawn to an even more powerful dream?  A dream that appeals to their intelligence whilst being rooted in love, respect, co-operation and trust.

All of which leaves us with a question . . .

It's dreams of the butterfly that guide the caterpillar's transformation in the larvae.   Could it be a dream that will guide us into the future?

Can you feel it out there . . . ?

A dream with the vision, power and integrity to help us resolve our current, complex problems . . . a dream that's common to all of us, whether we're in London, Syria or anywhere else in the world.

Let's be honest, it isn't just the teenagers . . . we all need it.