Monday, January 19, 2009

We All Have a Dream

I have a dream ...

So does fellow mental health blogger Therese Borchard. Last year, on Martin Luther King day, she served notice that:

"I have a dream that one day I won't hold my breath every time I tell a person that I suffer from bipolar disorder, that I won't feel shameful in confessing my mental illness."

You might say we missed the civil rights bus. Ignorance, fear, stigma, discrimination - it's still out there. And every year, our society harvests a strange fruit:

"I have a dream that suicide won't take more lives than traffic accidents, lung disease, or AIDS, that together we can do better to reduce the 30,000 suicides that happen annually in the United States, and that communities will lovingly embrace those friends and families of persons who ran out of hope, instead of simply ignoring the tragedy or attaching fault where none should be."

A lynch mob of indifference. A broken healthcare system, pathetically little devoted to research, a society that turns its head the other way. We're on our own, facing the new day with unreliable brains, living in dread of the failed boot-up:

"Mostly, I dream about a day when I can wake up and think about coffee first thing in the morning, rather than my mood - is it a serene one, a panicked one, or somewhere in between? - and fretting about whether or not I'm heading toward the black hole of despair. I dream that I'll never ever have to go back to that harrowing and lonely place of a year ago. That no one else should have to either. But if they do (or if I do), that they not give up hope. Because eventually their tomorrow will be better than their today. And they will be able to dream again too."

A dream that we can dream. Against all odds, we are still standing. You, me, Therese. Think of your worst moments. Those dark days, when a dream that you could dream was all that kept you going.

A dream that we can dream. Our population, more than anyone, knows the power of a dream.

"We have some difficult days ahead of us," Dr Martin Luther King told a gathering in Memphis. "But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I have been to the mountain top ... and I've seen the Promised Land."

It was as if he knew what was coming next. The next day, a bullet raised him into Heaven.

I, too, have a dream. I dream a Martin Luther King will emerge from our ranks. He or she will unite us, lead us, shame society, break down barriers. We may not get to the Promised Land in our lifetimes, but he or she will get to the mountain top, give us a vision of the Promised Land.

And our children and our children's children will give thanks.

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