We live in a world of “can’t.”
You can’t beat the far right politically because they’ve got control of the media. You can’t defeat Republicans because they’ve got too much money. If you’re a Democrat, progressive, or God forbid, a real liberal, you can’t stand up for your principles because no one will buy what you say, and you will lose elections.
You can’t impeach George W. Bush even though he lied us into a war and has done so much more because, well, you just can’t.
You can’t talk reasonably to the religious right because they’re all crazy. If you’re a fundamentalist, you can’t allow religious freedom because everyone is out to dominate everyone else. If you’re not in charge of this country, somebody else will be, and you know for a fact that those secular humanists will take away your Bible and close your church.
If you’re a secularist, you know damn well that everyone who’s religious is out to get you. You know everything there is to know about religion and spirituality. You know for a fact that there isn’t one form of spirituality that might be a positive influence on anyone’s life.
If you’re a lesbian and live in a red state like Kansas, you’ll never see a day when the laws of your state will treat you fairly. If you’re gay or transgendered, you know that prejudice will last forever.
If you’re am employer, you can’t pay your employees a living wage because what matters is how much money you make. You can’t treat your workers like adults who can set their own hours because if you do, they’ll just slack off and take advantage of you. You can’t keep from outsourcing their jobs because everyone else is doing it, and the bottom line is all that ever counts. And if you hurt inside because you wonder why there is no meaning in your life, if you despair because a sense of community has disappeared from your world, then remember that there isn’t anything you can do about it. The business world is cutthroat, and we have to be realistic, don’t we?
Meanwhile, you can’t get rid of poverty because no one ever has before. Because health-care reform was tried and didn’t work, or because you don’t like any of the plans you see right now, you certainly can’t help us solve our insurance crisis. You personally, of course, can’t do anything to take the health-care albatross from around the necks of U.S. companies.
You can’t clean up pollution because that would take away people’s jobs (and no one has ever done it before.) You can’t improve public education because it’s run by the government, and the government is bad (and no one ever has succeeded at this before.) You can’t stop corruption in government because people will always be corrupt (and no one has done this before.) You can’t reform the campaign finance system because of who’s in control of Congress (and no one has found the perfect solution before.)
You can’t stop war because they’ll kill us if we don’t kill them. Every time you kill a terrorist, or accidentally kill the wrong person, you create more terrorists out of their family and friends. But don’t forget to believe that it is possible to kill every single person on the Earth who wants to kill Americans. We believe this because we’re realistic. We know we can’t survive unless we kill them and kill them and kill them and leave no one left alive to come after us.
We are all practical people, living realistically in a tough world. We will accept what we are given. Oh, we’ll try to make little changes where we can. (A few of us recycle. Others refuse to laugh at gay jokes. Some give money to the United Way. Some even run kitchens for the poor, and yes, there are times when we make a difference.) We do what we can. We know what our limitations are. And at times, without even thinking about it, we teach our children the nastiest lesson of all. We teach our kids that we have to kill “them” before they kill us whether that’s in the business world or on a battlefield. Nothing we can do will ever change this, we tell our children, so we advise them to be hard, be tough, be real.
We are all so damn realistic. We are so damn practical.
I am sick-to-death tired of this, so I have decided to let go of reality and become foolish.
I believe we can heal the world. It will not happen overnight, and I’m fully aware that one person can’t do it alone, but one plus one plus one plus one will.
People hunger for this. We thirst for a world where people come first. We are desperate for a culture where compassion is the norm and not an occasion for a news story. We can’t heal our society, though, unless we are willing to believe it can happen.
I am done with being realistic. I am done with being practical. I intend to dream and to make that dream real. I intend to become the fool.