The Stuff of Dreams
Jan 19 2009

barack_obamaTomorrow is the inauguration of the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.  The post I did called A Vote for Brown, Brains, and Change after he was elected was one of the most commented-on posts I’ve written on this little’ ole blog.  It’s a historic event for America because as pretty much everyone in the world knows, it is the first time we will ever have a brown person, who also happens to be extremely smart and qualified, at the head of what is still the most powerful nation in the world.

There is much hope pinned on him to keep the US a strong world power and save us from the descent we are now experiencing.  I believe that if he continues to openly communicate with the American people that he will set the realistic expectations that it could take as long to get out of the world wide economic quagmire we find ourselves in as it took us to get into it.  He has a lot of challenges ahead of him and it comes down to each and every one of us contributing by continuing to work hard and helping others, as good Samaritans do, to help them get back on their emotional or financial feet one family at a time.

I was watching Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have A Dream speech (August 28, 1963) earlier today on CNN and was moved, as I usually am, at his words.  Just over 45 years ago, colored people could not drink from the same water fountain as White people.  They could not stay in the same hotels or hotel rooms as White people.  They could not sit in the same place on the bus. They could not get access to the same education.  They could not play on the same football teams.

MLK and all of the people (White, Black, Brown, and blonde, red, hair-dyed, and dark haired people) who believed in his dream, knew that one day the children of the slaves and the slave owners would be able to sit down together for dinner as equals.  They would be able to go to the same restaurants and stay at the same hotels.  His dream took time to achieve but now almost half a century later most of his dream has become real.  If he had not been killed for voicing his dream out loud, he would be 80 years old today enjoying his 4 children and granchildren.  If he had not taken a stand, the world might have been a different place.

Not only colored people but also women have been able to achieve amazing things because of the barriers broken down by men and women who came before us.  I am so grateful for the strong women I have met along my path who have helped me and instead of pushing me down, they offered their hands and their hearts to pull me up!   These people fought hard to make our lives easier, and as I start to cross mid-life, I not only look ahead of me but also behind me to offer my hand in help to others.

The Obama experiment is a new one not only for the US but also the modern world.  For any experiment to work, we as a nation need to be fully on board.  Be skeptical, but push ahead with gusto.  Put cynicism aside for a while and have faith that with our words and actions we can make a difference for the world!

A friend of mine, who I know is wrestling with his dreams although he won’t admit it out loud, recently told me that some philosopher said something like “we can change the world by changing the songs (narratives) we pass on to our kids.”  The stories we tell our children about someone’s beliefs, someone’s skin color, someone’s gender are the stories they carry with them the rest of their lives.  The stories have changed in the US with regards to brown people even from when I was a child, yet I still struggle to change those internal narratives even now.  The stories have changed also with regards to women/girls.  We still need to continue to change them for the positive.  My grandfather once told me that one day the people of this world will all be a nice tan color so in some small way it became OK for me to marry a White man and have tan colored kids.   He told me a bunch of other stories that were hilarious but not appropriate to blog about! 🙂

But the world still seems to have trouble changing the stories about people’s religious beliefs as we continue to see in Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.  The children are taught to hate and mistrust others based on their religion because that is what they see and hear on a daily basis.  I wonder how we can help change the stories and dreams for those children?

In my mind, getting an education is the single most important way to continue to enhance the lives of each and every one of us, our children, and the world’s children.  Tolerance and understanding come from open minds, open hearts, and trying new things.

As you think about how we can help change those children’s stories, I leave you with a YouTube video of Martin Luther King’s speech given in 1963 (see below).  Isn’t technology amazing sometimes?!

Author: | Filed under: diversity, entrepreneurship, success, success story | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments »

5 Comments on “The Stuff of Dreams”

  1. 1 James from said at 11:49 AM on January 20th, 2009:

    Great Post!!!

  2. 2 Erin Defosse said at 12:37 PM on January 20th, 2009:

    There is definitely a major role to play for the stories and narratives that parents tell their children. I grew up in Mexico which, many of you might be surprised to hear, is a very racist country. All the time I was there I would hear insults hurled at Mexicans of predominantly native american “indian” heritage and when any of these rose up economically or socially, there were always whispers denouncing the “indian’s” ascent as something that could only have occured because of luck, cheating, or corruption. Never was the true “content of their character” expressed in a positive light. So powerful was this social narrative that, when I was a child, I could only envision myself marrying a fair, blond, and light eyed woman and could only think of having cute little white/blonde kids. Fast forward over 20 years later and here I am, married to a beautiful, intelligent, successful, and caring brown woman and I have gorgeous tanned colored kids that are growing up not understanding how prejudice could have ever existed. I must say that, somehow, somewhere, my parents must have passed on some narrative or story that allowed me to believe, perhaps without me or them knowing it, that such a wonderful future might await me and that this would be good for me. Perhaps I’ll never know, but I am grateful for the future that was made possible because of that. I hope that all of us in this country, and indeed the world, can pass along similar stories and narratives to our children.

  3. 3 Liz Handlin said at 2:57 PM on January 20th, 2009:

    What a great post. I have heard of you from Thom Singer and have been reading your blog on occasion and I really like your site and your insights. Keep up the great work.

  4. 4 Aruni said at 5:39 PM on January 20th, 2009:

    @James – thanks for your enthusiasm as usual!

    @Erin – Just goes to show you we can in some ways overcome our narratives…without violence! 🙂

    @Liz – I had lunch with Thom today and I’m honored that he told you about me! Thanks for stopping by.

  5. 5 Aruni said at 8:23 PM on January 28th, 2009:

    From my friend Jeremy who couldn’t find a way to post this from work (and he doesn’t have a home computer)

    Aruni – That was very well said.

    As I look at this event in history I realized that there is only one other time in my life that I have observed such a strong oneness of our country and that is right after 9/11. Not that 9/11 is any more or less significant but that between the two I know that our country can rally behind eachother as a nation whether it be a national tradgedy or a national day of honor dispite differences of perspective. I can only imagine what the nation felt like after Pearl Habor or the end of WWII but relative to those events, 9/11 and the election of a president that has amassed the rallied support of our nation and nations abroad even before a single day in office is as close as I may ever experience.

    We should all allow ourselves to be a part of this experience if not for the man being inaugurated today but for our country. This sense of optimism and unity is always fleeting, but the memory of that optimism sustains our country even when none is here today.

    We should be so lucky to have all our presidents garner such elation on the day of their inauguration. It’s the day of new ideas and hopes for our country. But it is always the country that remains and it is our country that enables those ideas and hopes to flourish. Every president has the country to thank for their opportunity, but it is the president that either shines the light brightly or dimly on the greatness of our country and all who
    serve her.