Saturday, June 10, 2017

#161 / Fighting The Poverty Of Imagination

The following story comes from the President's page in the Spring/Summer 2017 edition of Peace & Freedom, the newsletter of the Women's International League For Peace & Freedom, generally known as WILPF:

A little girl was rushed during the night into a bomb shelter in Israel, near the Syrian border. Cold and scared, she could not sleep. To quiet her fears, her father told her: “Picture a little girl just across the border in Syria who is also in her bed and afraid of the noises, and wish her sweet dreams.”

Yifat Susskind, Executive Director of MADRE, was that little girl who imagined the possibility of another little girl just like her, huddled in another cigarette smoke–filled shelter. It was a revelation that night, Susskind tells us in her TEDx talk, “Fighting the Poverty of Imagination: Building a Future That Never Was,” that there actually were children in Syria, that the “other” existed as a human being. This expanding of her imagination guides her work today.

Whatever the reality of the moment—an event, a challenge, an opportunity, a call to action, or a loving suggestion like that of Yifat’s father—how long does it take for that moment of imagining to be realized?

The freedom to imagine and to create is essential to the survival of humankind. As Jane Addams noted more than a century ago, in Democracy and Social Ethics, “much of the insensibility and hardness of the world is due to the lack of imagination which prevents a realization of the experiences of other people.” This is the starting point for changing the system.

Let me highlight that thought again: 

The freedom to imagine and to create is essential to the survival of humankind.

First, we "imagine." Then, we "create." That is the heartbeat of human freedom, which is a gift given to each of us. It is rarely easy. We sometimes fail. But this, I think you know, is true: Within our human world, what we can "imagine" we can "do." 

Can we heed the words of John Lennon? Even now, we can. Can we not recreate in our inner ear, the song the Byrds sang, Turn, Turn Turn!?

Analysis, so often, suggests despair. Let us imagine better than that, because freedom always has another song to sing: 

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late!

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