WORDS: 1,468 — It seems in a world completely littered with.. well, littered with bullshit… there seems to be a significant absence of people with anything related to having a sense of vision anymore. In a way this relates a bit to our loss in recognizing real life heroes among us. Collectively we want to believe such people exist.. badly in fact… because there are so many crisis, fears, terror, and suspicions, we want to be saved from… even if only depicted inside the escapism of TV and movies (and even from my post on the last James Bond movie… fictional heroes don’t last forever). Are visionaries, people who can predict or even just suggest a brighter future, a thing of the past?
When I endeavor to compose a post for this blog I very seldom just let my meanderings flow from my brain to the keyboard without doing some basic online reference checks to firm up a focus and context (although some readers may dispute I give any thought to what I post). What had prompted this post was a reflective frustration that at this point in time our country… humanity itself… really, has no contemporary figures from which to assign a faith as being a true visionary. Oh sure.. we can pull out of history a multitude of past characters that have stood the test of time as being visionaries and sages but I dare say if any of those folks were alive today none would pass the vetting scrutiny of our cancel culture, much less the divisive ideologies that are unable to agree on a common truth. Now, that’s not to say we don’t like visionaries today.. as long as their vision fits our biases of what the vision “should be”. The “Superman” hero of the 1950’s B&W TV show I grew up watching would not last a “Metropolis” minute before being tossed under the bus today. I mean… he fought for “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”. But today’s definition of all three of those elements varies which side of the political spectrum you fall on. (“What do they mean by that? Who’s truth? Who’s justice? What ‘American way’ we talking about?”) (I just heard some new “Superman” variant is bi-sexual now. What color kryptonite caused that… pink? wtf.)
Often when making a post where a theme focuses on a term, word, or phrase there’s the usual accepted dictionary meaning as a starting point. A Google search popped up an interesting post from a blogger on the Medium blogging site… Sanjiva Weerawarana . Yeah, that’s the author’s name.) and while the dictionary meaning of “visionary” is…
1. (especially of a person) thinking about or planning the future with imagination or wisdom.
“a visionary leader”
2. relating to or able to see visions in a dream or trance, or as a supernatural apparition.
“a visionary experience”
3. a person with original ideas about what the future will or could be like.
“he is a visionary keen on policy-making”
…I prefer the above blog author Sanjiva’s definition as it more relates to meaning #3 above.
Vision is the ability to close your eyes and imagine a future that not yet exists. It is the ability to see beyond the mess that may be in front of you, to abstract away from it, to clean it up and see a (hopefully better) future that does not yet exist.
He goes on to suggest that hallucination might be related to being a visionary.
Vision and hallucination are not that apart as far as I’m concerned! According to Google, hallucination is “an experience involving the apparent perception of something not present.”
The big difference of course is that people are supposed to realize vision is something to aspire to, not believe as current and present. Those who hallucinate have really good vision, but just can’t tell the difference between that and reality.
Well… while I would admit that hallucination has helped to create some good rock & roll variants, not sure about the rest. But I think his point is that being a visionary musters the imagination with forces of creativity to reach an inspired alternative outlook of the future. I think average Americans in general will agree that our Founding Fathers were indeed political visionaries. From the words that formed our Declaration to split from England to those profound concepts that promoted of a constitution based on freedom and inalienable rights that created our Constitution, there’s no question men of vision were at work there. They were creating a future document… and they realized that from the start. But let’s be sure we present context to that. The term “Founding Fathers” rather lumps all the signatories of the Constitution and the Declaration who agreed were part of a collective vision they all developed by some level of consensus to the content as written. It was not an easy or simple debate… to either document. To be a signatory on the Declaration itself was a straight line to the gallows under British law if caught. Those signatories had a vision of a free America, yet to be designed… and each American caught up in the fight to separate accepted that vision of a free America… many having given their lives to just that vision alone, and nothing more. The Constitution was a different vision… one of self rule. A collection of the will of common men.. many having a vision beyond a “today”.
But men.. and women.. of good will and humanity, are not the only people with a vision. The authoritarians of history all held to some vision to justify their actions. Alexander the Great had a vision… Atilla the Hun… Napoleon for the Greatness of France… Hitler for the Thousand Year Reich and the cultural re-building of Berlin… even the Taliban and ISIS have their respective visions for a world they would dominate.
The Greeks… the Romans; Marcus Aurelius: “There was a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more than a whisper and it would vanish, it was so fragile.”
Social movements create people of vision… Martin Luther King envisioning free and equal for black Americans. Nelson Mandela and a nation free from apartheid… David Ben-Gurion’s vision for a Jewish nation…. the historical list goes on and on.
Generally speaking… when we vote for our politicians we are literally voting for that candidate’s particular vision of what he or she wants to do to presumably make our lives better. But we don’t assign that “vision” as being an all-encompassing wider meaning vision that might capture the dreams of the public or a nation. Which that in itself might suggest the current feeling in our divisive America makes following a populist vision of any single person impossible. In effect, there’s no breeding ground fertile enough inside public opinion to spawn visionaries to rise to the occasion. Visionaries DO exist. While most have no idea they might be a welcome visionary on a grander scale, many will go along never being realized given fate’s influence on events.
But to my greater point here with this post is that America can use a good visionary… or smaller local visionaries… to give us hope in some sort of future better than the collective garbage representing our current here & now. Yet to present some context to that… I fear we have, hopefully temporary, lost our collective national vision of America. We are here but we don’t know where we need to go, want to go, or even dream of going. We can’t even lead ourselves much less send our President to Italy to convince other world leaders that we still know what we are doing here. To be sure much of that is the pandemic and the subsequent economic problems. No question. I think one of the things not making this far more worse than it is on the on the international scene is that the rest of the developed world is suffering in the same ways. No one is ahead of the game (no, not even China). But that in no way implies we can ignore our faltering image to ourselves, each other, and the world.
We can make do without a national hero. We cannot make do without a conscience.. an identity… in who we are as Americans. People of vision provide a hope for what could be that might be better.
“WHEN DO WE GET TO USE THE GUNS?”
At a speaking event in Idaho, one man asked right-wing activist Charlie Kirk about using violence against democrats. He went on to say…
“HOW MANY ELECTIONS DO THEY STEAL BEFORE WE KILL THESE PEOPLE?”
This fellow has his own vision for America. The question is.. how many will sign on to his vision? To echo Marcus Aurelius… “I remember a dream that was America.”