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Monday, 29 February 2016

Discover & explore: Dreams

Here is the reflection from our latest Discover & explore service. The next service in the series is on Monday 7th March at 1.10pm, when the theme will be Joy. All are welcome.


Last year Louisa Johnson became, at 17, the youngest X Factor winner. She said, ‘My dream has come true!’ and ‘This has always been my dream.’ Everyone who enters X Factor is following their dream but only one contestant can actually win the competition; so what happens to the dreams of those who lose?

In a piece in ‘The Guardian’ Heather Long questions whether doing what we love in life and our careers is actually a fallacy. She writes: ‘Many 20 and 30-somethings (if not those older and younger than that) grew up hearing the advice that all you need to do in life is "find your passion". The implication is that if you "do what you love" (in shorthand: DWYL), success – and presumably happiness and money – would follow.

People like Apple's Steve Jobs and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg were held up as examples (if not gurus) of this "DWYL" trend, alongside people who quit investment banking jobs to become cheese farmers, plumbers or yoga entrepreneurs.

But writer and art history scholar Miya Tokumitsu argues that this romanticized notion of the working world is a dangerous fallacy. It's the modern-day equivalent of the emperor's new clothes myth …

Tokumitsu writes:

‘DWYL is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn't happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker's passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.’

The ‘silent evidence’ is, as Dan Perez has written, that ‘for every J.K. Rowling there’s a few thousand equally talented (and dead broke) writers whose books will never be published. For every Steven Spielberg, there’s a few thousand equally talented filmmakers living in the basements of their parents' home who will never get a shot at Hollywood. For every Jerry Seinfeld, there’s a few thousand equally talented comedians sharing one bathroom apartments with two roommates in New York’s East Village and other cities around the country.’

One of the many issues with the idea of following our dreams is that so often the dream we are following is selfish; a dream about personal achievement and no more. When Dr Martin Luther King Jr spoke the words, “I have a dream” in 1963 he was not talking primarily about something for himself, instead his was a dream about others and the future of society:

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

His was a dream rooted in scripture: ‘I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."’

Being rooted in scripture it was inspired by and mirrored Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of God and the vision of that kingdom which St John recorded in his Revelation:

“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”

And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.”

As a result Martin Luther King’s dream was able to withstand setbacks and struggle and counteract the ‘silent evidence’ that we considered earlier: ‘With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.’

Like him may we dream the dream of the coming kingdom of God and pray: ‘The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.’


Gerald Finzi - Nightingales.

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