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First a dream

In Washington Monument by Night (1922), Carl Sandburg wrote of the dream of the Founding Fathers of the United States:

The republic is a dream.
Nothing happens unless first a dream.

I never thought I’d ever quote Ronald Reagan in a post for TEDxExeter, but he quoted Sandburg before a joint session of Congress on 28 April 1981, and then he added: “all we need to begin with is a dream that we can do better than before. All we need to have is faith, and that dream will come true. All we need to do is act, and the time for action is now.”

Reagan uses the rule of three in his rhetoric to good effect: we need a dream; we need faith in our dream; and we need to act on our faith. Of course, the implication is that the dream should be to do better. And the need for dreams will never end; we will always need to dream new realities, to be willing to act, to change things for the better.

That applies to things out there, and it applies again and again and again. As President Obama said in his speech after the Charleston church shootings: “Their death says to us that we must work passionately and unrelentingly for the realization of the American Dream.”

But usually it has to start with ourselves. To quote Gandhi again: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” So we too, each of us, need a personal dream. As the author Malcolm Forbes put it: “Living and dreaming are two different things – but you can’t do one without the other.”

Everyone will have a different personal dream, some to work for justice yes, others to see their nearest and dearest blossom, still others to truly become themselves. What is your dream?

Nothing happens unless first a dream.