A Dream of a Tale
On a sunny day by a reflecting pool that makes up what is known as “the Mall” in the middle of Washington, D.C., thousands gathered to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr give a speech. It was the culmination of the day’s events and a march for better jobs and freedoms for all Americans, particularly those of African descent.
The dreams that had created the United States of America were not new dreams but they had been considered illogical. For centuries, mankind had believed in varieties of mythologies and none of them spoke of equality or independence. In fact, most myths made it very clear that mere mortals were completely dependent upon their deities and the natural world.
People had chanced an ocean voyage to the other side of the unknown seeking the right to believe as they wished. The colonies were a collection of different groups all following different myths, different belief systems, and different religions. How could such a diverse population achieve unity and if they did, with what could they battle against one of the strongest nations in the world? It was the incredulous stuff that formed the plots of their myths. It was a foolish dream.
They began in the early 1770’s and there were hurdles to clear. Larger colonies wanted greater power and smaller colonies wanted equality. Somehow, though, agreements were reached, an army formed, a war waged and battles won. There were losses but they served much like the myths they told to their children. They learned from their losses, became stronger from their failings, and somehow, garnered the right to call themselves an independent nation.
One hundred years later, the unity they had forged in declaring their independence had become a myth in and of itself. A civil war raged on and towards the end, a man named Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that reminded them of their initial purpose, in their belief not in being slaves to immortal gods and goddesses but in being free men with equal rights and human dignity afforded to all.
Three months shy of the one hundred year anniversary of Lincoln’s speech, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr stood up and quoted President Abraham Lincoln. His passionate speech once again reminded those who were listening of the dreams that had become the founding mythologies of the United States of America. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. 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 today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”
Earlier today I reposted a blog post from the first day of Session One of Sawyerville Day Camp. You may have wondered what it had to do with mythology. It has everything to do with it. The mythology that some people deserve to be poor dates back to the myths telling of the “chosen people”. The mythology that one’s skin color should determine one’s status or one’s religion should make one a target is the dark side of mythology.
It has been said that creativity is closely aligned with mental illness and that those who believe in myths are crazy. We all believe in myths of one kind or another. The children of Sawyerville, both campers and staff alike, are all worthy in their right to live, to learn, to laugh, and to be celebrated. They are the descendants of those who wrote the mythologies of the world. They are the reason those myths exist.
Most of you I do not know but you are just like those smiling faces. You breathe; you experience joy; you cry; you hunger; you, hopefully, love. Sawyerville is celebrating its twenty-first summer this year, an accomplishment that would have seemed impossible in 1963 or even 1863. It was the dream that began a war in 1776 and the path that mankind began with its first step.
The spirits of our mythologies reflect the spirit of mankind, the life force and mental acuity within us all. The journey campers began yesterday at Sawyerville will continue through the rest of Session One and Sessions Two and Three. They will bridge a divide first experienced when mortals believed in immortals – the divide of difference.
What some call a myth, others call fact. What some believe, others discount. Rice with all its different varieties is a staple found in kitchens all over the world and yet, most prepare it differently and serve it based upon ethnicity. It is still rice and it still tastes delightful. The different myths of the world are just as entertaining and meaningful. We do not need to believe them all; we should just respect them and the cultures from whence they came. Yesterday, as they have for the past twenty years at Sawyerville Day Camp, girls and boys of different races, ages, cultures, and backgrounds, joined hands to prove the best myths are those dreams that see realization. Dreaming is believing!
Once because of mythological bias, women were subjected to body mutilation. This week in Nigeria that was ruled illegal. Hopefully the law will be enforced and not become just a tale forgotten. Racial bias is also based upon myths as are religious biases. We need to learn the truths and then build productive dreams in order to move forward. The spirit of the future is not based upon ignorance but upon peaceful living and respect for all.