So, without further ado, let’s get to it:
This one is easy and complex at the same time. The simple answer is that The Nightmare is now. We need only watch the news and study the available information to see it all around us. It’s climate change and environmental degradation, it’s poverty, it’s injustice, it’s war, it’s the failing of democracy, it’s unbridled competition and corporatocracy, it’s inequality… I could go on.
But all of these things are not The Nightmare to us personally. For the most part, living as we do in a well off western democracy, these concerns are (or seem) remote to us. In the face of the day-to-day business of just getting on with life, we might struggle to see the bigger picture.
Nightmares are not impersonal – we don’t generally have nightmares about a debt based banking system, about the loss of bluefin tuna or about whether our vote really counts at the elections. Perhaps we should, but we don’t. In fact our nightmares are intensely personal and usually about us. So we need to be able to see or feel the effect on us personally of these problems. Perhaps that might seem selfish to some, but it is a feature of human existence and, for reasons I will go into in a moment, it is about empathy which is inherently unselfish.
We might well be able to see some effects immediately in this personal sense. We can all well imagine losing our jobs and, subsequently, our homes due to the ongoing recession/financial crisis. We should not have to try to hard to imagine being unable to find food to feed our families.
But some are more remote and for these we must use our empathy and imagination. We have all seen the news footage of flooding in Bangladesh and the horrors it brings, but this is, for most of us, remote. But is it too much of a stretch to imagine a news report showing the flooding of London, of New York, of New Orleans come to that? Can we imagine the newsreader saying that the flooding is due to rising sea levels brought about by climate change? I think we can and we can feel much more keenly that sorrow and that horror as a result.
Likewise we have all seen the news reels of brutal tyrants and the wars both that they cause and that are fought against them. Again these are most likely remote to us. But is it so hard to see that our democracy is failing? When we see our cherished public institutions and commons being sold to the highest bidder? More pressingly still, can we imagine what it would be like to see our own children sent off to war? For some people, this is not something that requires imagination at all.
Even if we can feel it and see it though which, in truth, most people can, what can we possibly do about it? The sheer amount of sadness, horror, brutality and greed in the world introduces, for many people a kind of paralysis.
It is this paralysis that is truly The Nightmare. Indeed many people will have had the personal nightmare where they are trying to run from something but their legs won’t move or they get stuck. It has been said that these chase dreams reflect our fear of certain situations and, in the case of getting stuck, an inability to escape the situation or the consequences of our actions.
On the global scale it is the very same nightmare. The sheer extent of the problems and our inability to respond to them (and this is where the failing of democracy is critical) leaves us trying to run from the problems but being stuck in paralysis. As the world we’ve built comes crashing down around us we discover that we have nowhere left to run or hide and so we – intellectually and politically – curl up in a ball and hope for the best. (It may, incidentally, not be a coincidence in light of this that so many disaster movies – think 2012 – have found their way into the Hollywood mainstream; or indeed that conspiracy theories seem ever more numerous).
So if paralysis is The Nightmare, what is The Dream? Well, again, the answer is as simple and as complex as The Nightmare.
The Dream is the opposite of The Nightmare. It is the world that could be, that should be instead of the world that is.
It’s harmony with nature instead of climate change and environmental degradation, It’s prosperity instead of poverty, it’s justice instead of injustice, it’s peace instead of war, it’s the revitalisation of democracy, it’s cooperation and the will of the people instead of unbridled competition and corporatocracy, it’s equality instead of inequality. There are many more answers to what the dream might be and what it might lead to, some of which you can check out here and here and at simpol.org.uk amongst many other places.
But at the personal level, as set out above, it is the opposite of paralysis – and the opposite of paralysis is action. In turn, action is a product of choice.
This then, is the answer both to what The Dream is and how to bring it into the mainstream. We must choose to see it and to feel it and to act upon it. Each and every one of us must, to extend the metaphor, get up and walk into a better future. Each of us must take global responsibility and cooperate together to implement our desire and our will for a better world for us all and for the generations that follow us.
Simpol offers each and every person the opportunity (at no cost) to be this global citizen and to make these changes. Come and join us today and let’s bring the dream into the mainstream for everyone.