And so, the story goes that the young missionary living in a land far, far away was daydreaming. In his daydream state, he was imagining what a meeting would be like with the chief of a cannibal tribe that he was planning to visit that week. He imagined asking the cannibal chief: “Do you people know anything about religion?” … and the chief answering, “Well, we got a little ‘taste’ of it when the last missionary came here.” In your Dreams!
Do you daydream? How often do you daydream? I daydream occasionally. In fact, psychologists tell us that it is healthy to allow the imagination to take flight and construct healthy images of what life can be like. The danger of overdoing it is when daydreaming overwhelms our time and takes us outside the realm of reason or reality. However, healthy daydreaming leads us to a vision of a future that is positive, healthy, uplifting and hopeful.
Indeed, good and great leaders in history have been “dreamers.” They have been visionary in seeing their role in life and God’s place in that vision. Who can deny the transforming power of Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision? His famous “I have a dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial has become part of our national conscience. Our lives have been changed for the better because of his singular vision. His was a “dream” enveloped by God’s direction for a people. It also merits noting that those who dare to dream the good and great dreams must also be willing to make personal sacrifices in realizing their vision.
A sure mark of a good leader is the ability to distinguish between unrealistic daydreaming and those dreams / visions that can become reality for the good of all. This takes wisdom and it takes work. Our pluralistic society cherishes those leaders in government, church and the military that strive to achieve unity amid diversity. Indeed, America is no longer a “melting pot” but rather, it is more like a mosaic of cultures, ethnicities and language groups that have come to our blessed nation to realize their good dreams. Those leaders, who understand that uniting all these diverse groups is not only worthy but also attainable, will affect the most positive outcomes. By contrast, those who allow division and disunity will contribute to a growing sense of factionalism and discord.
For a moment, just think of the great potential we will realize as a nation as we continue to unify people from all backgrounds who contribute their talents and diversity into our national mix. We can and will become a model to those nations that struggle with internal division (and in many cases violence) due to racial, ethnic and religious tensions.
The dream of finding unity in our diversity can only become reality as we apply it individually. To be sure, we need leaders that endorse this vision, but we must individually choose to apply it. The testing ground for the application of this national distinctive is not down the street. It is in each person that the dream is fleshed out.
For instance, do we go out of our way to socialize with people of another ethnic/cultural group? Can we claim to have good friends that originate from another language group? Do we attend cultural events that will expose us to people from other countries who reside here? These things unlock the door to experience personal growth and enrichment. Those of us who embrace and celebrate our diversity will become instruments of unity and will result in a stronger nation.
America is the nation of my dreams. In the nation of my dreams, there is no room for division. There cannot be! As we look around us, what do we see? We can see the vast richness and tremendous potential stored up in each person regardless of race, language, culture, gender and religion. In fact, I will go as far as affirming that creating division is the equivalent of despising our nation and dishonoring God. To be sure, there is no room for divisions in our great nation.
As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, I am reminded of countless sacrifices made by men and women who lived the dream of service and leadership for our beloved America. Great works in great nations start with a dream. It is a dream founded and planted on a godly vision for a people. It is a vision of achieving unity in the midst of diversity. It is a vision that can give us a taste of heaven. HAPPY VETERANS DAY!
–Chaplain Joe Molina CDR, UMSC / Chaplain to the Corps of Cadets (© all rights reserved)