Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Last Night's Dream

Last night I had a dream that I was stranded in a place with hundreds (maybe thousands) of young people. I was young in the dream (older teenager) and almost all of the other people were young children to older teenagers, with just a sparce dispersment of adults who acted as sponsors for us. Like I said, we were stranded and for whatever reason there was no hope of being sent back to our lives in America. A black market quickly rose up for what food and goods were available. Everybody found little spots here and there to call "home." My home was with another teenage girl (best friend in my dream)--we shared a spot the size of a sleeping bag.

My mom was in the dream and was put in charge of entertaining the children (she was a Children's Minister at our church when I was a child). I kept trying to go to her for support, encouragement, and just plain 'ol mommy love, but she was always too busy. There were things she HAD to do before she was able to play mom to me, and she never got done with the ever growing list of things she had to do.

Additionally, people began to form themselves into groups according to interest....or skin color...or eye name it. Tons of groups. The groups gave themselves names and found ways to dress, and dance, and eat, in order to creat their own sort of culture.

Finally (in my dream) people began to get desperate due to our circumstances. They started hurting or killing eachother over small unimportant things that SEEMED important to them. They started ambushing the "homes" of other people who had done nothing to hurt them. They were angry and sad so they made it their mission (unconsciously) to make others angry and sad.

I woke up from my dream in a huge stupor--I could barely come out of it! The dream has haunted me all day, and I've come to some realizations about it.

How is my dream that different from people who are stranded in nations like Liberia, or Haiti, or dozens of other countries around the world? Countries where their circumstances are so bleak that things once unimaginable are now commonplace. Where mothers don't have the honor of giving their children "mommy love" as much as they need it simply because too much else is required of them simply to survive. Countries where the identity of whatever group you are in becomes more important than ANYTHING else because it is in your identity that you find some semblance of safety. Where they lines between right and wrong are smeared indiscriminantly because of basic human needs. Countries where more than half of the populations are children, and most adults have a skewed since of justice.

How is my dream different from the reality of millions of people in this world? It isn't--except that I had the blessing of waking from my dream.

As Americans it seems that we often judge the actions of those who live in 3rd world countries. We don't understand their bribes and "corruption." We don't know how they could ever "abandon" their babies. We don't undertand why they don't do something to "help themselves" out of the mess that we think they have created.

I propose that as Americans we really don't WANT to understand. Most of the time we'd rather look at "these people" from a distance and pretend that we are in some way superior in our morality. In contrast, I tend to think that we Americans, as the most spoiled citizens of the world, would be even worse to eachother if we were suddenly placed in the same circumstances as those in Liberia, Haiti, and many other countries. We are no better--no more moral--we just have the priviledge of living out our morality wihtout extreme punishment or circumstance. May we all remember that the next time we turn on the news and look on in horror at how "those people" treat eachother.