Artists of Pretend

At the time, I was vice president of interactive media at GodwinGroup in Jackson, Mississippi. I had a beautiful office. I was beginning to ponder how what I was doing to help corporate clients mattered in the whole scheme of the universe.

I had one of my vivid dreams – which I’ve had throughout my life. This one I’ve not thought of in quite a while.

In the dream, I was looking out my office window and noticed that someone had erected a beautiful scenic facade all around the building that those within the building could see. It had a painted sky and would give us a perpetually sunshiny day. I remember thinking, but I don’t want to see what’s not real. I want to see what’s real. In the dream, there was a breaking through of the screen where the sun was and it was brighter and more beautiful than what the artist had drawn.

When I awoke, I thought about all of the poverty surrounding that building at One Jackson Place. Just down the street were the shotgun shacks rented out to people who could never afford owning a home. Theirs were the dwelling places of pain and lost hope in whether they could even survive the nightly gunshots, drugs and generational poverty passed down to them as other ancestors pass down family wealth. In my awakening, I realized that I really did want to see what was real instead of surrounding myself with a facade to keep me numb to the difficulties of this world.

What does this dream teach me today? As I read the news yesterday and saw that Tennessee state legislators are prohibiting players of state universities from kneeling during the national anthem, I see some wanting to build the sunshiny facade even still, preventing them and others from seeing the pain of the oppressed people in our society. 

Seeing what’s real can help us all break through to the true beauty of light. Light that reveals what is and what can be. That what we should be working towards is not hiding pain but getting to the root cause of it and having faith enough to change that which causes it. Then we would be working towards protests becoming unnecessary. All would be living in dignity and equality. Instead of being artists of pretend and erecting those facades, leaders would become true leaders – showing what can be if we only have the courage to look into the light and let it shine through us – radiant and bright.

It’s not a dream to be dreamt at night. It’s one that must be lived in the light.

About N. Neelley Hicks

A social innovator in communication strategies & technologies for global development, Neelley is the founder of Harper Hill Global. Check out her game-changing work:
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