All You Have To Do Is Dream

As in the song by the Everly Brothers, all you have to do is dream. This is particularly true about my son who wants to know what to dream about before he can go to sleep each night so that no nasty dreams will come. I imagine a massive slot machine like the GIF above, giving out random dreams to kids when they pull the handle. Why can’t someone invent it then I wouldn’t struggle each night to think of something suitable and exciting enough for him so he'll let me out of his room? But our nightdreams are just the way our subconscious compartmentalises – ooh look at me getting all Freudian – I’ll stop now before I slip up!

It’s our daydreams that influence our thinking, our ideals and our directions. I dream one day of being a famous writer. Whether it actually happens is irrelevant to the dream that I have conceived in my head. Our daydreams have power. I remember when I was younger, having a poem by my bed, written by Patience Strong that was given to me in a greeting card. Even though I read it nearly everyday, I can't remember it now and can't find another copy, but it went something like this:

Set yourself a dream to reach

The rainbows end to find

..... making sunshine in your mind.

OK, there was definitely more to it than that and if my brain ever remembers it, I will add to it at a future date.

I recall that it was inspiring at the time and I often reflected upon it, wondering what my dreams were and where I would be in years to come. It was a positive affirmation, making me believe in myself and achieve my dreams. Just a shame I didn't value the words more at the time and keep them for posterity.

Words matter. They comfort, they shock, make you laugh, they take you on adventures and they influence your thoughts. As an aspiring children’s writer, I hope to be an inspiring children's writer. I am constantly aware of the way words can affect children’s perception of life. Over these past few weeks, there has been great controversy over famous children’s authors and what they have written or not written about in their books or even as themselves in the public eye. What we have to remember as writers is that words don’t just affect the author itself, but when books are successful, generations of people may read your work and live by your words. Therefore, as writers we must always ensure we too live by the words we create.

The famous quote by Martin Luther in 1963, is particularly poignant at this time of writing. I was going to just quote a couple of sentences, but after reading it again, it is so important and would be doing a disservice to cut it so I will copy the whole thing.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beckoning light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

One hundred years later the Negro is still languishing in the comers of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

We all have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to change racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice ring out for all of God's children.

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted citizenship rights.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

And the marvelous new militarism which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers have evidenced by their presence here today that they have come to realize that their destiny is part of our destiny.

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

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 together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

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.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the mount with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, )mowing that we will be free one day.

And I say to you today my friends, let freedom ring. From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the mighty Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we're free at last!”

Such incredible words, and in my ignorance I thought it had made a difference and racial discrimination, prejudice and abuse was eradicated. I had no idea that Black people were still being persecuted daily because of their skin colour and only through the recent events and awareness by #BlackLivesMatter were my eyes opened and will never be closed again. I presumed that all were equal in society after hundreds of years of oppression, but I was shocked to learn as a middle-class white person that I had done nothing to support, acknowledge or even understand the constant discrimination that Black people experience every day of their lives.

It is important as a writer to understand that society has changed and continues to evolve. During the Corona Virus pandemic, it’s been easy to become more self-isolated, more self-absorbed in our own lives and not aware of others. Reading is one way of learning about other cultures, disabilities, history as fact written into fiction, but it is essential to understand the truth behind the fiction.

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