Marshall read this essay at TEDxGreenville before singing “I’m a Dreamer” (from her Love Slave CD).

The Dream

Marshall Chapman – late September 2001

 

After 9/11, I had a dream. Like everyone, my husband Chris and I sat riveted in front of the TV, awaiting the moment when President Bush would address the joint session of Congress. The whole world was watching. It was one of those moments that could chart the course of history for decades to come. Or define a presidency.

“Wouldn’t it be great if he’d just walk up there and say nothing?” I said to Chris. “Just hold up a placard with the words WE WILL NOT RETALIATE! written on one side, and GOD BLESS US ALL! written on the other?

“I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Chris said.

“Yeah, but wouldn’t it be great if it did?”

I didn’t think my idea was so far-fetched. Later, the President could explain that Yes, we would increase security in our airports and at our borders; yes, we would become more vigilant as a nation; and yes, we would pursue the mastermind behind this heinous act that killed thousands. But at the same time, we would look inward as a nation. Do some soul-searching. After all, no child is born thinking, “Ummm, when I grow up, I believe I’ll fly a commercial jetliner into a big, tall building full of people and hopefully kill everybody!” That’s just not natural. So we would open the lines of communication with all nations, including our Arab brothers and sisters, and not simply because we want their oil. And no, Mr. Rumsfeld, I don’t think we should use this tragedy to invade Iraq. Yes, they have their problems. But we’ve got ours. We’re killing too many of our own people. We pollute too much. We consume too much. Let’s concentrate on ours and allow Iraq the dignity of dealing with theirs without our intervention. After all, we’ve had some ugly periods in our American history. Take the Civil War, for instance. What if Iraq had come over here to straighten us out? Hey America! You can’t be the Land of the Free and have slavery too. We’re going to declare a War on Slavery-ism and come over there and straighten you guys out. In the name of Allah, we’re gonna do it. You’ll be thanking us when it’s all over. No! We Americans would not have liked that one damn bit. Another country coming in here, telling us what to do? Imposing their values on us while we’re going through our growing pains as a nation? Over our dead bodies!

WE WILL NOT RETALIATE! Would Congress have applauded? Would there have been a stunned silence? Would there have been yelling and jeering like we see in the British Parliament on BBC? We’ll never know.

WE WILL NOT RETALIATE! Sounds like something Jesus might have said. Or Ghandi, or Martin Luther King.

WE WILL NOT RETALIATE! It was a moment. It could have happened. But it didn’t. Since then, America has moved so far in the other direction that the concept sounds crazier than ever. But I’m sticking with it. A dream? Yes. But … you’ve got to start somewhere.

I’m a Dreamer

I’m a dreamer
I believe in things nobody can see
A dreamer
It’s my job rearranging reality
If people think I’m crazy
I don’t care
If people think I’m lazy
They are unaware
That it’s a full-time job

I’m a dreamer
My imagination runs away with me
A dreamer

It’s a trip to be this happy and free
My head’s in the clouds
What a view I’m gonna shout it out loud
Maybe you You are a dreamer too …

I reach for the stars
It’s the least I can do
I may never hold them
But I dream that I do

I’m a dreamer
I believe in things nobody can see
A dreamer
My imagination runs away with me
A dreamer
Every day I live is an adventure
A dreamer
I dream from January to December
A dreamer
I’ve been this way since I can remember
I’m a dreamer

Written by Marshall Chapman & Sharon Leger
©1996 Tall Girl Music (BMI) Administered by Bug All rights reserved.