Guest post by my almost 16 year old daughter Emma:
“If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer a wisher a liar
A hoper a pray-er a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin
Come in!” ~ Shel Silverstein
Our world is almost indescribable. How do you put something that encompasses the entirely of our existence in a single word, one definition that’s supposed to explain everything? Here is a planet with seven billion people attempting to live at the same time, a planet with hundreds of languages, countries and religions; a race of people full of untold stories and brimming with secrets. I try not to put the world into words, because as Oscar Wilde said, ‘to define is to limit’.
Still, every so often I like to sit back and simply…wonder at the beauty of it all and the ugliness too. We’ve realised ourselves that there cannot be beauty without some imperfection in the equation, and while we have a lot of imperfection, without it we could not know beauty. Our world can be all at once grotesque and exquisite. We have committed terrible acts as a race, as individuals, but we’re also inherently beautiful. You’d be surprised how widespread this belief is; Marilyn Monroe said that ‘imperfection is beauty’.
This is a world full of dreamers, and that is perhaps our redeeming quality. I’ve always found that of every great power on this earth, dreams outstrip all. They are restricted only by our imagination, and they’ve led us from strength to strength. Of course, dreams aren’t always pretty things and in many cases they’ve led us to death and destruction.
Dreams are what drive us to be great, to always tell ourselves that we can go further, we can do better. The fact is that dreams have changed the world, for better and for worse, and they will continue to do so until we’re just a radioactive shimmer in the air. You can’t limit imagination or willpower and so you can’t limit those who dare to dream. Our minds span farther into the universe than technology will ever be able to transport us, and reside deeper in our hearts than any scalpel can probe.
Jesus Christ dreamed of a peaceful world. In His life He demonstrated how massive a task He has given to His followers. Born in a land where those who weren’t ignoring the problems were baying for blood as a way to resolve them, He told people to love their neighbours and even though it seems like a losing battle, every day His followers work towards a peaceful world.
We sweat and we bleed and we die for our dreams, because they’re worth it, and that’s what makes them more powerful than hydrogen bombs and guns and all those superficial instruments of power.
The world is an amazing place, but I believe that we don’t make it less beautiful by living on it. Some say that the world would be better off if humans never came to exist, but I think that despite our imperfections, without us the world would only be a sad shadow of what we have made it.
However, we have a duty to ourselves and to the world, which has given us room to grow and new places to discover, to make sure that we never end up as radioactive shimmers in the air. We have a duty to pursue world peace with single-minded determination and to keep our hopes and our dreams alive. We’re a long way from peace, and there’s still a chance that world peace may be impossible, that there’s no way to keep seven billion people happy at the same time.
Instinctively, I see two problems that are making peace impossible, and those two things are the reasons for innumerable atrocities throughout the turbulent history of international relations. They are ignorance and intolerance. Simple in themselves, but the 20th Century showed us just how easily these two things can put the world minutes from total annihilation.
Ignorance leads to fear, which is the reason that the Cuban Missile Crisis got so far out of hand. Intolerance built the concentration camps and fuelled the minds of those who committed terrible acts there. There’s no clear answer to achieving peace, and it will take many more decades of baby steps to get anywhere close to it, but I don’t think I’m alone in believing that when all is said and done it will be worth it.
You don’t have to be idealistic to realise that the world is a wonderful place, and a flawed place, but it is a beautiful place, so every so often I urge you to sit back and indulge in a healthy dose of awe.