Friday, June 19, 2009

Imagine That

A friend of mine recently told me I have a vivid imagination.

We were having a hypothetical conversation about sports and I had created all types of scenarios and game plans in my mind to buttress my argument. My friend pointed out that I'd put a lot of thought into something that wasn't actually real.

That made me think.

All my life I've spent a lot of time in imaginary worlds. Unlike many young men, I've always been more interested in fiction than non-fiction, mainly because I love getting lost in other worlds and lives. I use books the way some people use movies and television.

I'm also guilty of playing the "What If?" game. I make up crazy situations in my mind, situations involving the police, or criminals, or my children and then quiz myself on how I would react. I imagine how my life would have played out if I'd done certain things differently almost everyday. My father said that when he named me, he knew I would be a dreamer, and I must say he was right.

That said, I've recently begun to notice that my imagination is somewhat limited.

I've often heard people talk about all the ways they expect the world to improve, how they expect human relationships to be better. These folks talk about an inevitable end to racial and religious strife. They can see that world as if it's already real.

But, I can't.

I wonder if my imagination is broken. I can readily suspend disbelief when it comes to trolls, elves and the like, but when it comes to a world largely free of racism and discrimination, well I balk. Maybe I'm jaded, but it's hard for to see such a reality.

Some of y'all might point out that it was likely impossible for slaves to "see" a world where they would have the same rights as white folks. Or you may note that folks in the Dark Ages probably couldn't have imagined the television. All of these things came true, so why not this other dream?

Maybe y'all are right. Maybe these things are just over the horizon and all it takes is a commitment from all of us to reach them. Or, maybe the evils of racism and discrimination will plague human beings forever, just like the common cold.

I honestly don't know. Sometimes I feel deficient for not being able to see the future so many folks hold on to. I wonder why I can't make that leap of faith when I have made other leaps of faith that folks find just as fanciful...

Imagine that.



Anonymous said...

I feel you. I think its because of my faith and work but generally I too find it hard to think things will get better. Better how? There is so much pain and suffering in the world that never seems to get better.

Good post!

Max Reddick said...

I'm feeling this post. I too have a very vivid imagination. When I was a child, my imagination just ran wild. My folks didn't know what to think. Then one day my mom gave me a pencil and a pad and told me to write it all down and not tell anyone else. She was frightened that people would think I was crazy.

But just like you, as much as I can imagine, I cannot see a world any better than that we have now. But maybe it's because I have no point of reference. The world has always been tittering on the verge of complete anarchy since I have been in it. Maybe that world is the bounds of what I can imagine.

But then what is left is hope. I hope the world gets better. I hope the many ills threatening Africa are solved. I hope for peace in the Middle East. I hope. I hope. I hope. But when I sit down and try to connect that hope with an image, I fail.

Lisa J said...

Racism, or some form of bigotry will always be with us. It is part of the human psyche it seems. Think about it, when Europe was just white folks (with a smattering of black folks- we've always gotten around) they discriminated against each other, might look exactly alike but still found a reason to hate someone else. Same thing in Africa, the Far East, the Near East. Someone always has to pick on someone else to feel better about themselves. Maybe someday we as a species will evolve past that point, but evolution is SLOW, it can take tens, hundreds, thousands, millons of years.

In this country, in this lifetime? Nope. Now maybe if some space aliens came it might end but that would only be b/c we would come together to hate them! Oh Lord, I'm paraphrasing Reagan. Time for me to sit down. :=)
Happy Father's Day Big Man!!

Big Man said...

I see some of my readers lack imagination as well.

I agree with y'all, but I keep thinking "But, could folks have imagined the way the world is now?"

The change from 50 years ago is amazing, so maybe I just need to have more faith.

Max Reddick said...

If you are talking about technological advances, then no. I would have never believed the internet, or cell phones, or any of the other things we have now. But then again, if I could, I would be filthy rich.

But socially and morally, the song remains practically the same.

Big Man said...


I think that the same way some folks overstate the advances we've made morally and socially, you are understating them.

The level of legal and casual discrimination that black folks faced in 1950 would have made it impossible for them to imagine life as a black person in 2009.

It would have been easier for them to imagine life as Martians..

Max Reddick said...

"The level of legal and casual discrimination that black folks faced in 1950 would have made it impossible for them to imagine life as a black person in 2009."

I'll readily concede this point. My grandmother was more than a little bit shocked when President Obama was elected, but she even more shocked that he lived to be inaugrated. I've heard older people state all the time that they cannot believe the progress we've made.

However, for the most part, it's all superficial. In other words, the old prejudices and injustices have not disappeared; they have simply taken reappeared in other forms.

We are still wrestling with some of the social and moral issues we've been wrestling with since I was cognizant of the world outside my particular umvelt.

Imhotep said...

Big Man, I think to control some of the isms that are rampant in our society, we need to remove ownership interest from all things. No one can own anything, sell anything or buy anything. We all have to produce something, but we can't produce it for yourself or our family, it has to be produce for others, with the idea of how can what I produce help humanity? We all get to choose what we want to produce, and we choose according to our talent or interest. No position is intended to be life long neither is place /country of residence. Everyone has to read a book a month from elementary school on until they die or their eyes go bad.

You ask for imagination, well how about the day when we can all heal ourselves, re-grow limbs, suspend aging and go back and forth between the spirit realm and the physical world.

Oh, as far as no racism or classism, not in my lifetime. My imagination is kind of limited on that reality.

Big Man said...


I can always count on you for a comment that makes me think a little bit harder.

Deacon Blue said...

I have to admit to that kind of lack of imagination as well. Throughout much of my life, not only have I been able to exercise my imagination through reading fiction...writing it when younger (and now writing it again)...and even having long, serial-style dramas staring me that I would run through my head while strolling down the street or riding the bus or whatever.

And yet, I find it hard to see how the world is going to really pull itself out of a lot of its crap.

Sorry, wish I could say otherwise, but we're in mind meld again on this matter, Big Man.

Raving Black Lunatic