I found myself in Venezuela-Gaza, standing on a hill in Jerusalem from which the path ran down through narrow old streets that turned into a modern jumble of hillside favelas and a plain view of urban disparities.
A group of student volunteers were meeting up in a cavernous rectangular hall dating from Crusader times and were discussing things as they got ready to adjourn. Leaving them, I walked out into the surrounding narrow grey stone streets that coursed like channels between walls of shops with colourful open displays .
There, I ran into Elena and her baby. Elena was sick, with some respiratory ailment. The baby too was sick, but his biggest problem was that he had no milk.
What to do? I talked to Elena. She was full of what at first sounded like excuses but which on closer listening were true statements of why she couldn't do anything, why her situation was helpless and hopeless.
I did some work around and got her either some medicine or some milk or something to cover herself with in the cold. She took it with a mute and fatalistic appreciation that bordered on indifference.
I went back to the gathering, and somehow discovered that Chavez had started a milk program. Everyone one in Venezuela would get milk! Five glasses for children, 1 for adults, and 2 or 3 for old people. It was right there, in black and white, on the form next to the check-boxes.
I ran back to Elena and told her about the milk program. The only thing was that she would had to pay a nominal sum -- in her case .32 cents -- in order to "qualify" for the milk grant. Elena was appreciative, in an empty way, for what was in fact an empty gesture. Yes, but she still didn't have the money or at least not enough to do it daily; so in the end what was the use? In the end it was hopeless.
I stood inside the ante-chamber of my gyms' sauna. In Spanish, a nurse-voice said. "It is critical to get to her now. If we get to her now at this stage we can do something, otherwise her condition will become chronic, even if we were able to manage it."
I went back to my room and wrote a letter/speech to Obama. It was the perfect letter distilling the truths of what had to be said and setting them out with clarity and convincing force and with no more nor less than what had to be said.
An aide tried to run interference, but I folded it length-wise and got it into Obama's hand. "Read it," I said.
A short while later, Obama convoked a re-gathering of the young volunteers. He told them that there were three alternatives:
The first alternative was denial; to negate the reality, with some sort of countering polemic.
The second alternative was to admit the reality and the need for change, but (as he hunched a little and ducked his head to the side) to "realistically" acknowledge our limits and do what we could within our limits.
The third alternative was to admit that one had been wrong, without varnish and rise to meet the reality without compromise
The No. The Yes But. The Yes!
The audience was more than enthused. I was overcome and crying. Elena and her baby were going to be alright. There was going to be a real change from now on out. I was crying for joy.
As I returned to my college dorm room, someone came running after me. Did I hear the speech? he asked excitedly.
"Yes," I said... "I wrote it."
"What?" came the reply, "Aw c'mon... don't be an asshole."
"No really," I said, as I fished out my copy, unfolded it and gave it to him.
In my dream I felt myself waking up, and I was happy for the new day I was waking up into.
Then I woke up.
We can always dream. but dreaming is not enough. We have to act on our dream, and therein lies the power of the pen..