“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” — Robert Frost
“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned in order to have the life that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell
“You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why not?’” —George Bernard Shaw
Being asked at some stage why this blog had the pretentious title; “We dream about things that never were and say: why not?”, – I refer back to one of the plays of George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) “Back to Methuselah“, which actually is a series of five plays on its own.
In “Back to Methuselah” the above quote is used by The Serpent to Eve in the Garden of Eden. The play was performed for the first time in New York City at the Garrick Theatre in 1922 and entailed for the time a most interesting science fiction fantasy which took three nights to do.
The former US Senator and assassinated Presidential Candidate Robert F Kennedy (1968) borrowed this quote and said it differently: “Some people see things as they are and say why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?”
Kennedy and Martin Luther King were the people at the forefront for change in the United States during the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King was assassinated just a couple of months before Robert Kennedy was killed.
The movement for change came to a standstill, the Vietnam War escalated, – social issues to be developed in the US were put on hold. The last until the movement for change embodied in President Barack Obama evolved into a new episode in US history, at a time crucial for various developments in the world.
If the further movement for change on issues of human rights, on Peace and International Stability requires to get stronger, and if the quote in above fiction play (from Bernard Shaw) is being allowed to embody a stronger emphasis, then the “I” part in the quote needs to be changed in the “We” part.
We are all strongly interdependent and if the “dream” in whatever entity resonates as a ripple effect across the generations, like the waves are coming and going but (!) always coming in terms of new energy, “We” may create a movement eventually which breaks the obstacles for Peace and stability, the obstacles to reduce poverty and keep the ingredients to protect this small planet against climate changes and other disruptions of various nature.
We dream of things that never were and say: “Why not?”, reflects a shift in perception so to say. A shift in thinking where new and better options are explored, new ways discovered. Where the creativity from the right part of the brain takes over the reactive activity from the left side of the brain, the last where those activities are not balanced in the actions of people. Actions which are not right and call for change. Actions which require passion and creative thought for peace and development.
Where conscious activities take over the activities from the mind, as it is not the mind which dictates the outcome of the future, the first determines then the outcome of our common activities.
Obviously we can do this as people in breaking with the past where this is required and at times we do this by choice, – using this gift we all have.
At the end it is not “I” it is “We”!
There is no pretentious aim in the title of this blog, – as it is not about “me”, it is about “We” as a people, “We” as people, “We” embodied in the future with plenty of issues to be resolved. “We” who bear both the seeds of potential and defeat.
Defeat we had, potential we need.
Far too often we see the scary demeanour of empty confidence and coolness in this world.
People who both often speak too noisy with overbearing pride. People often who build their lives at a cost of others, –the last not rarely with intolerance and suppression. We see this in families, our communities, in organisations where people are still able to manage from inflated principles, – and finally we see this in our country and many countries around us.
Often in “the culture” as well of our political systems, – whether they are democratic or the opposite.
The more suppression there is the more violence it may create, with violence creating retaliation and retaliation creating more violence, – whether this is the violence in our demeanour or the violence of a society.
Again and too often we see the sickness of not rarely whole societies, – with true respect for those who turn against it. And too often as well again we see the sickness of the souls of those people with the kind of sickness we are neither able to remove nor to heal.
What we can remove however is the hidden sickness of our own souls and shine as brightly as we can, – knowing that we don’t live in a perfect world. But the last thing which remains by free choice is trying to take away some part of the misery of humanity and this world, when it comes our way drop by drop and piece by piece, – either by coincidence or by choice.
In the final analysis as human beings, – we have the last choice. And again this is not about “Me or I”, but it is about “We”, – where the sum of our individual activities do help to call the trumpet of our collective activities. The last in alignment with a massive human orchestra, directed perhaps by those conductors representing global efforts in favour of increasing international coöperation on the issues of our time.
This part is not seeing things and standing by only, – and wondering “why?”. This is part of the active process of “Dreaming things that never were and say: Why not?” A creative and proactive activity, an ongoing movement for change where only “we” as a people can make this change.
In the broader sense of the word it is a team effort of gigantic proportions, which does not fail when one of the leaders would be assassinated, but where the group activity would make sure that the anti-movement would be eliminated by the proper law enforcement which would be the fruit of our collective endeavours, – and the movement would endure, regardless death, which surrounds us day by day.
Whilst the reality of this world may make many of us pessimistic, – the power of being hopeful and believing in the potential goodness of human nature and going beyond the realities of ignorance and violence, – provides us with the seeds to “Dream things which never were and say: “Why not?”
So let us go forth therefore unto keeping the human spirit alive, against all odds.
Let us go forth into the field where we are able to touch the lives of others who walk in “the dark”, whether they are rich or poor, – whether they represent countries in regression or under repression. As both in our communities we are able to offer the peace which helps people to move forward and inevitably among countries as well, – we are able to support those who need guidance. Not the support of weapons, which only give destruction and not the provision of hope, – but the support to inhabit this planet within the range of our human destiny where forces against its survival can be controlled by the rational end of the human spirit.
The last to be shared with the vigilant efforts within our families, communities and finally between countries, – where law enforcement on peace, human rights and the protection of our environment is not impossible.
Not even impossible in times where annihilation still is possible, – when people can’t do without this enforcement on peaceful efforts to settle disputes of any kind.
Therefore we need to continue to dream things that never were and continue to say, – as acting we must: “Why not?” Each time and in each generation those efforts need to be renewed. Each time and in each generation new identities need to be evolved to combat the danger of evil spirits and evil movements, – whether it is organised crime or human trafficking, whether it applies to countries who foo the world or people who represent terrorist activities.
Where non-violence needs to be the universal aim, – violence can’t be always prevented as ready we need to be to combat the risks of greater destructions.
Never ever we will live in a perfect world. Never ever will there be an enduring peace as there is always the risk of conflict. But “We” as a people need to dream things to create the antidote for the evils of humanity, – which is an active process starting at the base of our own conscience in all our day to day activities where we have to make choices, where we have to make choices to make things better or bitter.
Therefore we have to dream things which never were and say” Why not?” Not because the people have to do it for us, but we have to do it for the people, for those who deserve our care and compassion.
Again lastly (I touched base on this before), the last responsibility we have as people is to remove the hidden sickness of our own souls. Either the sickness from the past or the present, which manifest itself in small and often unnoticed deeds. It’s a process of personal growth which means we need to leave certain things behind us and replace this by better things today and shine as such as brightly as we can.
After sustaining and surviving the most horrible experiments in 2nd WW concentration camps, – it is as Victor Frankl once said about choice.
Indeed, at the end we have a free choice.
They can take away everything from us, and even at the last moment we have the final choice as how to respond or not respond at all anymore.
So neither death nor life needs to face us in the things we don’t understand, as long we play our own part on this little planet.
At the end nothing is terminal, everything is transitional, – even where death separates us from our duties here on earth.
But the duties continue in hopefully endless generations to come, each with its specific problems where man made problems need to be resolved.
And finally therefore the “We” part in saying we dream things that never were and say “Why not?” is so important, because the power of our collective dreams for a better world in action creates a ripple effect which can’t be stopped, – neither today nor tomorrow!
Paul Alexander Wolf
Challenges of our times and generation
- An Englishman in New York (hiscoxusa.com)
- Letters to Writers – On Making Mistakes (G.B. Shaw) (contemplatinglove.com)
- George Bernard Shaw in his own words. (oneworldchronicle.com)
- Creating Oneself (aryasowl.wordpress.com)
- Dreams (christianmotivations.weebly.com)
- Unkind Postures of the Boss (spyghana.com)
- They’re All Mad (theburningplatform.com)
- Happy New Year!! (docreits.com)
- 365 Quotes to Inspire You in 2014 (inc.com)
- Everyone had a friend in Cynthia (muscatinejournal.com)
6 thoughts on “We dream of things that never were and say: “Why not?””
Thanks Paul: thoughtful, reflective and delightedly, creatively provocative. I can’t write more as I’m going to read it again … because I choose to!
Thank you for starting this conversation of higher initiative, Paul. Yes, we need creative thinking to enable us to move through this global time of transition, as you mention. It is true that this world is in a desperate need of remediation. Its renewal process requires a call to action of Earth’s citizens and the process of transition out of darkness has already started, it is in train.
The media reveal in many countries how demonic aggression is being decried, political corruption is being exposed , hideous dictators deposed, the corrupt wealthy are being called to task and women are speaking out about acts of violence and suppression towards us. We are now living in this extraordinary time of personal, community, national and global evolution, where peace is not just a dream, it is inevitable, and the end to poverty and suffering is in sight.
Consider also that dreaming and positive thinking are necessary to enable us to move forward in so many cultural and individual respects, but they will not take us to the ultimate attainment of peace, love, compassion, acceptance, contentment and happiness without divine guidance. Truth, knowledge and the grand plan of Divine Springtime are contained in the sacred writings of many traditions, available to the seeker to guide him or her towards the higher station to which you refer.
Dream…and pray for divine intervention, I say.
I have read this piece of philosophy (art) again and again. The whole written develops while you read it… thank you Paul!
“What we can remove however is the hidden sickness of our own souls and shine as brightly as we can…”
The more I read it the more I find reasons to believe it…
I gradually became conscious that may be we all have been wrong…life would be simpler if we just let go the heavy baggage of fears, guilt, and failures in order to have a new beginning ….
We dream of things that never were and say: “Why not?” here, I am (almost) wordless…
If they never were …”we” can make it happen…why not? The “we” component makes a huge difference and change the whole meaning of the quote.
“We” means “together”, as people, as a group, community, family, tribe, or just as “we” you and I, but not just because someone said so…
It is because “we” as part of something beyond us or simply because “we” human beings as part of the universe (for those atheist) have the obligation first with ourselves, and second with those around us to make (everyday) an unshakeable resolution to go forward and make it happen…because “We” have too much to accomplish in such a short time.
Dr. Wolf. Your writing is so elevating and encouraging.
Thanks for the ways you serve the greater good. You call your readers to their higher purposes and expressions.
It’s my hope that you find ways for your knowledge to reach wider audiences so that more may benefit. Have you considered placing your blog posts into the form of a book? Here is a cool link:
Have you heard of “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho? It is now approaching 70 million copies sold! Also, to ‘monetize’ your knowledge and ‘gift’ to the masses, consider learning from Brendan Burchard (who recently got to interview Paulo Coelho). Here is his link:
Much peace and love to you,
I dream riding on trains stricle because of the metal clashing around together.
Two years before RFK died on the 6th June 1968, after winning the vital Democratic primary for President in California, he delivered perhaps the greater speech of his life at the University of Cape town in (apartheid) South Africa. It is called the “Day of Affirmation Address “.
It’s worth reading (or hearing) this speech once more – because of the timelessness and universality of his message and the relevance today.
“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events…..” – as he said in a wider context. It’s a call to the young of heart and spirit, in a context criticizing the regime of South Africa as well. RFK’s visit to Soweto and his meeting with various black South Africans was a lift for black South Africans.
RFK has been able in the US, to unite a coalition of working-class whites, likewise many African Americans and Hispanic Americans, and he was engaging many young people, including those being against the war in Vietnam under Lyndon B. Johnson. In the turbulent 60ties his focus during his Presidential campaign was to bring healing on deep rooted divisions in the US, including ending a pointless war. Martin Luther King was killed just months before.
Whilst there are and have been people with a focus to heal the divisions in the US, there have been as well people (in power) to exploit those divisions into very harmful situations. In the US Obama and Trump were opposites.
The spirit of healing divisions, will continue to be a prominent power to create a better world, – even when it is against all odds by the coincidental “power of one”, at times. In a world full of dangerous divisions, we need to cherish those people being able to embody the power of compassion and healing.
RFK’s death gave way to a long era dominated by a conservative landscape at large, which wanted to push the nation backward, Despite the Obama era providing a glimmer of hope, Democrats are still battling to overcome the Conservative impact, and this battle is presently embodied by President Joe Biden, at a very difficult time where Donald Trump is still promoting the “Big Lie”, that he won the election..
America is still a very divided nation, and Biden is trying to bring about what RFK was promoting half a century ago, within a different context, and opposing a Republican party which at large (still) seems blindly following the existing influence of Donald Trump – in a bizarre contest of powers.
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