Saturday, November 4, 2023

#308 / I'm Running For President: Wheeeee!!!


Some time ago a crazy dream came to me
I dreamt I was walkin’ into World War Three
I went to the doctor the very next day
To see what kinda words he could say
He said it was a bad dream
I wouldn’t worry ’bout it none, though
They were my own dreams and they’re only in my head

Bob Dylan

Somehow, these Bob Dylan lines have always stuck in my memory. It could be that I am just a worry-wart, having lived my entire life under the threat of nuclear catastrophe (and, of course, we do seem to be getting closer to that every day). By the way, if you want to listen to Bob Dylan sing that song, I'd suggest clicking on the YouTube link below: 

Whatever the reason might be, those words I quote above have stuck. Actually, I think I have appreciated Dylan's lines not only because of their reference to the possibility of "World War III," which is a genuine worry of mine, but because I like the idea that some sort of "crazy dream" can often put us in touch with the truth. 

So, let me tell you about a "crazy dream" I had just the other night. This was a real dream, and I am reporting on it, and it ended up with a roller coaster ride, with everyone screaming "Wheeeee!"

My dream started out, though - and it seemed so realistic - with me deciding to run for president. There is a presidential election coming up, and so that upcoming event is top of the mind for many, including me. That could be one major reason for this "crazy dream" I had. However, having by now woken up in the real world, I have come to think that my subconscious mind was trying to grapple with a discussion that took place in one of the classes I am currently teaching up at UCSC - where I teach the so-called "Senior Seminar" for Legal Studies. Before she, he, or they graduate, every Legal Studies major must write a significant, research-based thesis. In the Senior Seminar classes I teach, the students' thesis topic has to be related, in some way, to one or more of the themes of "Privacy, Technology, And Freedom." 

Anyway, in a recent class, I made the claim (and not for the first time) that we "Live in a Political World," and that this means that the world in which we most immediately live is governed, ultimately, not by "law," but by "politics," at least in the way I understand "politics." 

Politics means discussion and debate. The contention inherent in such debate and discussion leads, ultimately, to a decision - to legislation - which ends up establishing the governmental policies that determine what happens. I "diagram" my understanding, as shown below, in what I call the "equation" that produces the human world in which we most immediately live: 

Politics > Law > Government

I do remind everyone to whom I present this idea that we actually have "Two Worlds" with which we have to contend, as we try to locate ourselves within the reality of our existence. While we most immediately live in a "Political World," the world in which we "ultimately" live is the "World of Nature," or the "World That God Made," for those who are able to tolerate the idea that human beings are not the ultimate source of everything there is. Anyone who has taken a class from me, or who has read many of these blog postings, is apt to remember my "Two Worlds Hypothesis," and why I think it provides an important insight into our lives, both individually and collectively understood. 

Well, in the classroom discussion last Tuesday, the class was talking about some of the kind of political changes that we need to make, and I was on the side of "we can do anything." Our world - that human world that is created by our human choices and human action - is a realm of "possibility," and I was advancing the idea that we can make both our "dreams" and our "nightmares" come true, by what we choose to do. Since that is, I think, an accurate statement, there are ways we can escape from the totalitarian nightmare into which we sometimes seem to be descending. We just need to engage in the kind of political action that will allow us to transform reality into a different reality - one we create. 

I have, in the past, alluded to my own, personal experience as an elected official in Santa Cruz County, as an example of the principle that "anything is possible," and that political action can change the realities we sometimes assume are, in some way, inevitable. In Santa Cruz County, in the twenty years I was an elected official, representing the Third District on the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors, our local government funded, and thus made possible, scores of community-based nonprofit social services programs, bringing help and assistance to young people, old people and all people!

We initiated a fight to protect the California coastline from offshore oil development, and we beat the oil companies in Congress. For twenty years, there were essentially no new offshore oil production activities permitted, on any of our nation's coastal waters, except where such facilities already existed. 

We established one of the first "inclusionary housing" programs in the state, mandating that at least 15% of all new residential units, in developments containing five or more units, must be permanently price restricted to be capable of purchase or rental by persons with average or below-average incomes. 

We protected all prime farmland located within unincorporated Santa Cruz County, and we helped insure the permanent protection of hundreds (probably thousands) of acres of parklands and open space. 

This listing, as I was often fond of saying, is only a "partial list" of our community's accomplishments.

In the class, though, some students essentially said that while it is "theoretically" possible to make fundamental changes in the realities in which we find ourselves, the fact is that this "theoretical" possibility is without any foundation in what is realistically attainable in today's United States of America, dominated by the economic power of the giant corporations. In other words (my words, not the students' words), we're "doomed." I urged us all to remember that Global Warming. and the kind of environmental degradation and species extinctions that are underway, will ultimately make the planet uninhabitable for human beings, and that human civilization can fail (absent major changes). Then, there is that "World War III" possibility (let's not dismiss that). Plus, we have racial justice and income inequality issues (and let's call out our housing crisis, specifically) that our nation must address successfully. 

Anyway, you get the idea! If this short synopsis of where we are today had been a dream it would, like Bob's dream, have been a "bad dream." 

Thus (I am suspecting), I tried to compensate for the real life encounter I had in class with a "crazy dream" in which I decided to run for president, found that lots of people knew that what had happened in Santa Cruz County during my time of direct involvement was an indication that real and substantial change was actually possible, and contacted their friends and family all over the country, and lots of people with real expertise in national politics joined in a campaign and it looked like I had a good chance of being elected, and that we would succeed in changing course. People across the country liked the idea that: 

  • We would take action to stop the proliferation of more and more individual billionaires, and use the immense wealth available within our nation to provide every person in the country with: (1) Education; (2) Health Care; (3) Meaningful work opportunities; and (4) Housing. 
  • We would lead a movement to establish world peace based not on military power and the threat of nuclear destruction but on a recognition that we are "all in this together," working to make that recongition have a practical, real impact on the world.
  • We would address Global Warming by stopping the burning of fossil fuels, and figure out how to do that immediately, mobilizing every individual person in the effort, not pretending that either governments or corporations could do this. 

As you can tell, this was a "good dream," not a "bad dream," and because it was a "dream," not a rationally based political plan, I woke up with that roller coaster ride pictured at the top of this blog posting.

Everyone in the dream was holding up their hands and screaming, "Wheeeeee!!!!"

After I woke up, I realized, that the "Wheeeee" I heard in my dream is just another way to spell, "We."

Look, around friends, brothers and sisters; we are, really, all in this together and WE can change the world. 

So let's do it! 

What "science" teaches us, let's not forget, is that when something is "theoretically" possible, we can actually accomplish that "theoretical" possibility in fact, in real life. Einstein's equation (E=MC2) has been translated into the threat of a world-ending nuclear war. "Theory" has disclosed a possibility, which has become a potential "reality."

Let's remember that this is how "theory" works. Our dreams can and do become realities, and we are desperately in need of a "good dream" now!

And let's not forget the end of Bob Dylan's song. That really is the best part. If you've ever heard him sing it (an opportunity to do so is presented above), you will not have forgotten the last verse. I gave you the first verse at the top of this blog posting. Just remember the last one: 

Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams
Everybody sees themselves
Walkin’ around with no one else
Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”
I said that

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