Hornbill Unleashed

December 26, 2009

Dreamers of all lands unite

Filed under: Alternatives,Human rights,philosophy,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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By Pak Bui

To call someone a “dreamer” has become a grave insult in our pragmatic society, only marginally better than to call someone an “idealist”.

A close friend mused yesterday that life is empty without dreams. We must all have a dream of our own, to give us hope and meaning in life, my friend told me. I have ruminated over this, and I have decided I agree with this sentiment whole-heartedly.

Dreaming may be the natural state of affairs for human beings, as Zhuangzi, the revered Chinese poet and philosopher, postulated. One night, he dreamt he was a butterfly, flying carefree. When he awoke, he wondered if he was a man dreaming he was a butterfly, or if he was a butterfly who had just begun dreaming he was a man (莊周夢蝶).

Dream sequences have played major roles in religion, art and literature. Dreams played critical roles in the stories of Noah and Moses, common heritage to all three major monotheistic religions. Dreams also play important roles in Buddhism and Hinduism, and in the creation myths of the Ibans , Native Americans and the Australian aboriginal peoples.

If dreams play such a crucial role in creation, perhaps the destruction of humanity will be prefigured by the death of dreams. Our pragmatism, forged in the age of enlightenment and honed in the industrial revolution, has become a double-edged sword.

This modern pragmatism informed the ‘can-do’ spirit of American and European Calvinists. For them, material progress was seen as a form of worship of God. As modernity overtook religion, material progress seems to have become an object of worship in itself.

Our obsession with economic growth and technology seems now to be overwhelming our small planet, with pollution and violence. Where have our dreams vanished to?

In the children’s book Alice Through the Looking Glass, Alice comes across the Red King asleep, and “fit to snore his head off”. Alice’s companions Tweedledum and Tweedledee warn her not to wake him, saying she is a character in the Red King’s dream, or else she would simply “go out – bang! – just like a candle”.

Perhaps we have stopped dreaming and our world is expiring, just like a candle.

Our Malaysian Dream

How has our Malaysian dream of nationhood, equitable development, and justice, come to be replaced by the now dominant grey “free market” vocabulary? Such language is spouted most eloquently by wealthy KL and Singaporean folk who have “developed”, and left Sarawak behind.

Why is it that agitators for political and economic justice are derided as “idealistic” and “unrealistic”? What calamity could possibly be worse than losing our ideals and dreams?

Personally, I only care to spend time with dreamers. I enjoy reading reflections by people like SKY, Bunga Pakma and Apang. I do not mind if they drift off once in a while, for when they return, they are tremendously invigorating.

I spent a few minutes listening to Dr Martin Luther King’s famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial, at the climax of a historic civil rights march on August 28, 1963, now streaming into all our homes via youtube.

His words, and the hope and anxiety in the faces in the crowd, black and white, are electrifying, even to this day, when our marginalised Iban and Penan brothers and sisters are robbed, abused and beaten in our own land.

Whenever we feel despondent in our fight for justice in Sarawak, we could do worse than to listen to this brave preacher again.

We shall overcome, indeed. Even if it does not happen in our lifetime, we have a dream.

“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilising drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

“The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges…

“But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force…

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive…Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

“I have a dream today…

“This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


  1. I have a dream.
    I dream sarawak will be free and independent;
    I dream white termite and jabu suku,Awang the half cook will vanish one day.
    Then sarawak will be a land of free,
    free of corruption and stupid people,
    free of scums and scumbags.
    I dream the poors of sarawak will be rich,
    the Penans and orang ulu will suffer no more.
    The rest of politicial cronies can go to hell for all i care.
    This are my dreams.
    My sarawak dreams.

    Comment by H.G.Wells — December 28, 2009 @ 10:53 PM | Reply

  2. […] be capitalised by the opposition. Or has PPP become irrelevant to the Pakatan alliance…?? PPP dreams to once again rise from the ashes however there are obstacles in their way for PPP to be a vital coalition for […]

    Pingback by “Abuse to Illegal Deputy Minister” « Audie61’s Weblog — December 26, 2009 @ 2:56 PM | Reply

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