In honor of Martin Luther King Jr day, I just re-read the “I Have a Dream” speech. 48 years ago, which seems hard to believe, and although I was born after this time and I hear it only in echoes, it still resonates with me.
We all have dreams, for ourselves, for our families, for the future of the world. As we choose our path, or maybe sometimes it’s partly chosen for us, the seeds of those dreams are planted and take root in our soul. They are what stirs us, what drives our longing, what pushes us to fight through the current of ambivalence and inertia, for without that strength and our work, our dreams remain just that.
I know not everyone shares my same dreams, and that is well. There are many things in this world about which to care. It struck me as I was sitting in my daughter’s Girl Scout meeting that it is sad how quickly children learn to look out for number one, to be strong, to come out on top no matter the cost. How can that caring possibly take root in such rocky soil?
These girls, still young enough to be swayed by us old people, looked sincerely at us as they passed a ball around in a circle and spoke of their dreams to make the world a better place, and we were all touched by their sincerity. I hope they never lose it.
I hope I never let my cynicism overcome my naivete to the point that I stop dreaming of a better future, even when others scoff. My dream is not as lofty as Mr. King’s, but it is mine, and I hold it close.
I have a dream that we stop putting our heads in the sand as to the fact that 5 million animal souls are euthanized each year and finally look that cold and grey number in the face.
I have a dream that the many divergent groups of people who love animals stop sniping at each other long enough to realize that none of them are the problem, and all of them hold a piece to the solution.
I have a dream that my children grow up learning to be stewards of this earth, entrusted to do the best they can with the souls they share it with.
That we work through our problems rather than running away from them the moment they become inconvenient, hoping someone else will clean up the mess.
That we learn to accept compromise in order to accomplish our goals, instead of shaming people who are struggling to the point they are afraid to ask for help with a “problem” pet and find it easier to dump them than deal with the judgmental attitudes of those who know better.
That we help each other work through our struggles in order to enjoy the joy our companion animals bring to us in spades each day.
That we become less afraid to admit we are only human, and we make mistakes and do things less than perfectly on a daily basis, and we can tell the overly sanctimonious to stuff it every once in a while.
That we never, ever lose our sense of humor, for that is our armor against despair.
This is the dream I planted in my soul.