Imagination is the greatest feature of our human character.
Some scientists believe our ability to imagine represents the evolutionary distinction between humans and all other living things.
In the Judea-Christian tradition, God imagined creation into existence. He spoke it and there was light.
In similar vein our ability to imagine makes us co-creators. There is nothing in our own existence that was not first someone’s thought. Everything must first be imagined before anything can ever exist.
We are in crisis as a nation and a world; an economic crisis of unacceptable levels of unemployment; a crisis of too many conflicts, violence and wars; a crisis of hunger and the lack of affordable healthcare throughout too much of our world. And yet at the same time we are richer, more technologically advanced, produce more food and have the knowledge and capacity to solve our problems far greater than at any prior period in human history.
A young man told me recently, still unemployed a year after graduating from college, that he saw no future for himself. I saw a news report where a leading politician declared that he saw no hope for peace in the Middle East.
The real crisis we face is that we suffer a lack of imagination. Our idealism has been overrun by cynics burdened by a myopic view of history, and the weeds of negativism, greed and selfishness have taken root in our cultural narrative. We have become focused on materialism and detached from the Spirit of the dreamer.
This is the spirit that inhabited icons of dreamers through the ages; Galileo, Einstein, Gandhi, and Martin L King, are but a few of those who in the words of Bernard Shaw, ‘dreamed things that never were and ask(ed) why not?’
The first step in conquering our fear of scarcity is to imagine the impossible; a world of plenty, where we live in peace committed to the cause of affirming human dignity.
What we are able to imagine today, will be our reality tomorrow.