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Friday, January 20, 2012

what's your dream. (everybody's got a dream.)

[Note: As you may (or may not) have noticed, I've taken a rather prolonged hiatus from blogging. I'm in the process of working on a completely new blog that will launch later this spring. Until then, I wasn't planning to do any writing. That was until my friend Justin Zoradi, founder/executive director of These Numbers Have Faces asked me to write a post as a part of the organization's We Have A Dream Week in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I loved the topic and really believe in the work of These Numbers, so I was happy to contribute.]

Dream job. Dream vacation. Dream car. Dream house. Dream girl (or perhaps in your case, dream guy).

Often times when we dream, if we allow ourselves to dream, these are the things that occupy our minds. We do so, because it brings us joy. Honestly, who doesn't enjoy thinking about, or maybe even researching, that distant location that you would love to visit one day? Have you ever toured an extravagant home just to see what a 500 sq. ft. bathroom looks like? Taken a flashy sports car on a test drive, knowing you'll never buy it? Imagined what you'd do if you won the lottery?

We love to dream. That's why I have my "50 Things To Do Before I Die List" posted on the side of my refrigerator. Please let me know if you've got a connection to help me ride in a blimp (#17).


How often do we allow ourselves to dream big? No, think bigger. I'm talking about the kind of dream that requires a person to dedicate her/his entire life to its pursuit, even when there is no guarantee of its success. Clearly, it would be much easier not to. There is an immense amount of risk involved. Would we even dare?

Dr. King did. He not only allowed himself to dream, he shared his dream with the world. He lived it. He committed to it. Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenge that his dream sought to overcome. And ultimately, he died for it.

My favorite quote from Dr. King comes not from his famous speech on the Capitol Mall where his dream was outlined, but instead from a church in Memphis, hours before an assassin's bullet took his life and further ignited the dream.
"I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord." (watch)
This quote expresses a distinct clarity of purpose and a belief that the dream is indeed attainable. It is these two characteristics that make such significant dreams worthy of pursuit. And moreso, make them possible.

These Numbers Have Faces operates from this same place of conviction and focus as it strives to achieve its dream of making higher education accessible to students from impoverished areas of South Africa. By doing so, the organization recognizes that not only will individual lives be transformed but entire communities as well. Their work is powerful. Impactful. But it is also daunting. Still, they have made the decision with conviction to invest in this dream. And in the process they have given their students the ability to dream, many for the first time in their lives.

Take Xolani, for example. This young man was raised in an extremely poor environment. (Think of what real poverty looks like, then double it. Then double it again.) Neither of his parents are employed, and the family relies heavily on government assistance. Despite the challenge of these conditions, Xolani had tremendous promise, but little hope. Through These Numbers Have Faces, there is now a legitimate reason for optimism. As a TNHF Scholar, Xolani is a third year accounting student.

Like Dr. King, Xolani has a dream. A dream that will have a profound impact on his community and the world. Using the education afforded him by These Numbers, Xolani dreams of transforming South Africa by fighting the corruption that has plagued his nation for generations. It is an audacious dream. It is daunting. It would be easier, safer, to dismiss the dream. But like Dr. King, Xolani has a distinct clarity of purpose and a belief that the dream is indeed attainable. And that makes the dream worth dreaming.

Xolani's dream and These Numbers Have Faces' dream is to transform the world. They are committed. And they are making these dreams a reality. I encourage you to check out These Numbers Have Faces. Read the incredible stories of lives transformed. And share these dreams with others, so that their impact will be expanded.

As for each of us, My hope is that we give ourselves permission to dream. Big. And then do it. C.S. Lewis' great character, Aslan, said it best: "Do not dare, not to dare."