Photo credit: Associated Press
The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his I HAVE A DREAM speech at the Washington Mall, August 28, 1963

With the annual holiday honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hovering, I am called to create my own dream of a time in the future, a time that holds out hope, a time that promises to be different from today. Here goes.

I have a dream that takes me beyond the day I hug my grandchildren again (and my sons) or go to a movie or eat INSIDE a restaurant.

In my dream everyone we care about and their families have congregated around our pond on a warm summer day. The picnic tables are set up; we’ll eat later. Some are swimming, cavorting in the water. There is laughter. Oh how I’ve missed the laughter, I hear myself say out loud.

How good it is to see you, we all say, to everyone. We can’t stop smiling. We smile even at the few we don’t know that well, for we’re glad they’re here too. But we’re especially glad that we can see those smiles again.

We all share our CoVid stories, especially the ones that can’t be contained any longer and pour forth. You know those stories.

Just before we start to eat, we remember those lost during this pandemic. Then, as we eat, we chatter, remembering that we are indeed still friends — in some ways better friends than before CoVid came, for we’ve shared an unforgettable ordeal. And we’ve missed each other.

I hear the hum of conversation and remember how much I’ve missed that. I hadn’t realized how much I loved that sound until I began to miss it. And so l send up a quiet thank you to the CoVid lemonade gods. (You know, the ones that help us take those lemons and discover the lemonade.)

The pull of camaraderie is alive, and it is strong. Someone’s brought a play list and Whitney Houston is loudly reminding us we too, “Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Can you hear it?

And then a small group of us settle into comfy lawn chairs and talk about our country.

We talk about the man “whose name shall not be mentioned,” how he has finally been arraigned and will go to trial soon. We mention the many others already serving their time, some were sitting Congresspeople who flagrantly abetted the coup that almost was. And we debate whether we really want to make January 6th a national holiday, a day of remembering when we almost lost our democracy. Our debate is civil, even fun, the way we always knew debates could be.

We talk about how ICE has been defunded and how the many asylum seekers still coming to our land are now dealt with humanly and legally. We celebrate the fact that the detention centers no longer keep anyone for more than two weeks, time enough to check their stories, stabilize them medically, and find accommodations for them. And we are proud that these centers are now run and regulated by states and no longer by private companies looking to make a profit from the desperation of so many.

Resettlement has become relatively easy. Communities across the land have opened their homes to help these traumatized families reunite and rebuild their lives. Here in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, where most of us live, we are particularly pleased to have them, for we have grown old over the past few decades and need new young families to settle here.

I look up at that point, and into the faces of the ones we’ve helped: young men now with good jobs or enrolled in training programs, families reunited with their children and looking to us to reestablish their sense of trust. We have a dozen of these asylum seekers celebrating with us in my dream and we celebrate the diversity they bring to a community that missed it.

Their need for available housing has spurred that sector into a new and very welcome growth. Our local schools are offering classes beginning in second grade on diversity, cultural engagement, and prejudice. Yes, our children must learn the power of prejudice, how to recognize it and what to do about it. We all know this now.

And as we celebrate how far we’ve come, we also know we must not settle back into apathy. We need to continue to talk to those who had different yard signs, continue to build on the understanding and empathy we’ve just begun to share. We know we are not doing this for us, but to help make certain our grandchildren. in their adulthood. will not go through a year like we have just experienced. We want to make their world worth celebrating.

And then we pass the hat around for those among us who have decided to run for local office, for that is where it must begin — in our own backyard.

How about you. What is your dream?

pond with flowers
Photo credit: David Ackerman

14 Responses

  1. Darlene Foster
    | Reply

    A wonderful dream, one to hold on to. xo

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Darlene. These images are very real to me. And I notice how happy I feel when I indulge them. Glad I could share.
      Janet Givens recently posted…I (too) HAVE A DREAMMy Profile

  2. Marian Beaman
    | Reply

    Like you, I dream of peace, especially less drama on the news cycle from this day forward. My husband and I watched a documentary of Martin Luther King this week. Though I lived through all of those events, the images brought the memories a new poignancy – and hope!

    I’m not running for local office. Having spent a year and a half at city hall on behalf of my neighborhood years ago, I pass the torch onto the next generation.

    Thank you for this post, Janet!
    Marian Beaman recently posted…Taking the Plunge: Liesbet Travels the SeaMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      We are fortunate, I think, to have the technical means to remember how we stand upon the broad shoulders of those who walked before us. Thanks for your comment, Marian.
      Janet Givens recently posted…I (too) HAVE A DREAMMy Profile

  3. Arlene Smith
    | Reply

    I like your dream. It’s hard to find anything to add to it. Maybe clean water and health care for everyone in the world. That would be a dream.
    Arlene Smith recently posted…Up, down and all aroundMy Profile

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Oh yes, Arlene. There are many needs still to address. Water will be what countries fight over in the future, not oil. And climate change continues unabated. Peace in the Middle East would be nice. Health care as a human right, indeed. Much work to be done. And I need my party! Come join us. 🙂
      Janet Givens recently posted…I (too) HAVE A DREAMMy Profile

  4. Nancy Drye
    | Reply

    Well said, Janet! Can’t improve on that! We all yearn to see family and friends, but I particularly liked the expanded dream about local hosting of asylees…something real and happening now.

  5. susan scott
    | Reply

    May all your dreams come true Janet. I watched the inauguration live last evening our time and was mightily inspired. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a new era in the US. O it would be lovely to exhale fully in all parts of the world.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks, Susan. Though, I’ve also seen a few live broadcasts from South Africa over the years, it’s still stunning to me that our inaugural was live around the world. Hopefully, in my lifetime, I’ll help you celebrate the dawn of a new era in South Africa too. You’ve been through a lot.
      Janet Givens recently posted…I (too) HAVE A DREAMMy Profile

  6. Tim Fearnside
    | Reply

    Janet, your dream put a smile on my face. ‘To friends, and the dreamers!

  7. Pamela
    | Reply

    Great post. I have a dream that with the new change in American leadership, we all move toward a kinder nation, one that cares about the needs of all, not the few, and that a brighter light shines on our democracy.

    • Janet Givens
      | Reply

      Thanks Pam. I’m a bit late on the reply. Life has been holding my leash of late, rather than the other way around. A kinder nation: yes, I would certainly welcome that.
      Janet Givens recently posted…Musing Again: Mystery ListsMy Profile

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