Monday, November 10, 2008

Dreaming Obama

The full impact of last week's historic election is still registering, I suspect, in most people's minds.  In the inimitable words of Neil Armstrong: "That's one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind."  

Nevertheless, I struggled much during the campaign.  Throughout the primary campaign I ardently supported Hillary Clinton, and my loyalty continued on down to the Democratic Convention and beyond.  I have my own convictions about what took place there, but at this point that's neither here nor there.  Still, my present attitude is to be supportive, to listen, and we'll see.  Obama's acceptance speech, in my humble opinion, was magnificent, eloquent, and I have to say that the next morning I felt a tinge of relief and hope that has been seriously lacking to me for the past eight years.

To the extent that I'm able, as a white person of privilege in this society, I'm beginning to realize how very much President-elect Obama's choice means to all people of color in the U.S., particularly the African-American community. Though I was born and raised in an Ohio town that was and still is fairly racist,  I've thought of myself as generally unprejudiced, thanks to my mother who was always a champion of oppressed people, whatever the color of their skin. Once, when I was about 4 or 5, Mom and I were riding a bus from Dayton, OH to visit my aunt and uncle in Troy.  A black man was sitting at the rear of the bus, and I apparently blurted out to Mom, loudly as children often do, "Look, there's a Negro."  Mom had firmly insisted from the time I could understand that I was to have respect for everyone, regardless of color, appearance, etc.  At the end of the bus ride, the black man approached my mother and said that he'd overheard what I said.  He thanked her for training me to refer to black folks in respectful terms, noting that that hadn't always been his experience.  I've thought of that frequently as I've grown older, certainly congratulating myself less and less as I realize the subconscious and subtle remnants of racism with which I struggle.  Clergy are certainly not exempt.

So I was very surprised this past Friday at a dream I had.  It's not often that I remember my dreams with any clarity, but this one was vivid, though fairly short.  The locale was non-specific, but there I was walking along with Barack Obama! He wore a neat light gray suit; he was casual and nonchalant, yet at the same time moving with directedness.  I felt a bit awestruck, but not uncomfortable.  The dream concluded as he got into this God-awful aqua-green station wagon which had certainly seen better days! I remember thinking that he was probably travelling this way to avoid attention.

The fact that I dreamed about Barack Obama, and in such a specific way truly surprised me.  What in the world could it mean? Fifteen years ago, when I was in counselling with a fine therapist, Jim Park, in Chico, we did some dream analysis.  He had me keep a pad and pencil at my bedside, and to record in detail any dreams as they came up between our sessions.  I remember a time when I was puzzling and puzzling over the details of one of the dreams.  After discussing it for some time, Jim remarked: "Well, sometimes, Harry, a dream is just a dream."

And for my friend, Matt, with whom I had some spirited discussion on the election a few weeks ago, I'm still not 100% there yet, but I've learned a lot in the past week!     

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