Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Ideals and Dreams

“We’ve got to follow through on our ideals, or we betray something at the heart of who we are. Outside these gates, and even within them, the culture of idealism is under siege beset by materialism and narcissism and all the other ‘isms’ of indifference”

- Bono, Harvard Graduation Speech, June of 2001

I am and idealist and I am a dreamer, and I am proud of it. I am also tired of the look of pity and scorn I receive from my elders and my peers when they realize my ideals. Why is it that we feel the need to stomp on those who dream of a better world, and who fight their own desires of indifference and security? However, I do not wish this to be an attack on them. This is a proclamation to keep dreaming.

I am sick of being told I will change to pragmatism (as even I am not pragmatic already), that I won’t think the same when I’m are older. The truth be told, I never want to give up my ideals, my deepest convictions, that define me more than anything else. I don’t want the things I believe in to erode away by the pressures of this life (Mark 4:19). I love my dream, and I will fight and rebel against myself, and any others who try to rob me of it.

I fight against myself. I see the temptation to run into the suburbs with a nice house and a nice yard. Where my kids are so over-programmed we all go nuts trying preserve hectic schedules. It makes sense, we all want security. We look out for ourselves. We find security in bigger houses, and cover up the ideals we’ve compromised for bigger TVs and bigger cars. We sell our souls to the advertisers of America, who replace our ideals with products. We then replace relationships with programs. And the whole time no one finds the guts to stand up against it. It’s terrifying, but it must be done.

So, what are my ideals? They are not original, and they are not even mine. I believe that the Kingdom of God is here, ushered in by the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ some 2000 years ago. I believe in a world where people look not just to their own interests, but also the interests of others (Phil 2:4). I believe in a world where the hungry are fed, where the thirsty are given a cup of water, where the naked are clothed (Matt 25:44). I believe in a world where the abandoned members of society are taken care of (James 1:27). I believe in a world where justice is served. I believe in a world where humility is a virtue and pride is a sin (Mark 9:33-36). I believe in redemption, forgiveness, and grace. I believe in a world that is held together by a common love for our marker and each other (Mark 12:29-31). I believe we can live in this reality today if we so chose.

Will I see these ideals fully lived out in this lifetime? Most likely not…but I cannot stop believing, and I will not stop trying.

So to my fellow dreamers, keep on dreaming


A. Engler said...

Amen and Amen my brother. I'm with you, and I'm taking my stand with you.

Aaron Engler

Jim said...

So my little brother is a blogger! Ah, it seems like only yesterday that he was charging aroung our parents' house in his Underoos, screaming incoherent Michael Jackson lyrics and guzzling apple juice from his powder-blue sippy cup... and now here he is, speaking normal English and walking on his hind legs just like a real boy. :)


My thought on the subject is this: people who pressure you to abandon your principles are not your friends. They are most likely people who, at some point, succumbed to the same pressure when it was brought to bear on them, and attempt to make themselves feel less empty by dragging you down to their level. They can, and should, be safely ignored. (That's much easier than it sounds, trust me.)

Second, I think you draw a false dichotomy between "indifference" and "security." If it were not possible to have a pleasant, sheltered, secure existence in a green and idyllic suburb and still live a principled life, then how would a mild-mannered Omaha native such as yourself even be able to ponder these questions?

Further, I'd suggest that living a "secure" life (which I define as a life free of worries about money, the future, etc.) leaves one with *more* capacity to act according to the principles you describe, not less. It's simply human nature to be concerned with your own wife and kids' health and well-being before having the same worry about other peoples' families. This tendency is biologically hard-wired into us; to deny our basic makeup is to beg for disaster. But once you've assured yourself that you and your loved ones are well cared for, you're more free to devote your time and energy to expanding your sphere of principled influence into whatever areas you care to.

Sister Jen said...

Joe has a blog!

I've been blogging for several years, at but most of my entries are locked.

Remaining true to your ideals is the challenge we all face, with varying degrees of success. And, sometimes ideals change with life experience.

What's most important is to keep our hearts open to God and to each other.

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