Earn the Right to Dream

“Earn this. Earn it.”

The last words of Captain John Miller to Private James Ryan in the movie Saving Private Ryan have played themselves back to me continually ever since I heard them the first time. Having lost three sons in the war, the US army thought it fit to ensure the last surviving son, James, was brought back to his parents from Europe safe. Many a life were lost in the mission, including Captain Miller’s.

Let’s look around us. Our largely secure and just lives did not happen on their own. Generations of men and women worked for it, making personal sacrifices for the larger good. Society will always be development-in-progress, and not all of us need to be soldiers and activists, but each of us can be – and should be – doing their bit for the larger good. So we may earn what we have inherited.

We can, through our thoughts and actions. By reducing conflict – at home, at work, in our neighbourhood, with strangers on the road. By guaranteeing nature her rights, for the sake of all beings and our own. By reining in mindless consumption and ambition. By being kind.

Kindness comes when we simplify our lives. We seek pleasures in reading, in picnics, in outdoor sports, in holidays, in writing, in painting, in music, in dance, in love. Love not just for family and romantic partners, but love for everything sentient. The birds around us, and the animals, and insects, and trees, and flowers and even ponds, lakes, rivers, mountains – they feel even if they cannot express in a language we comprehend. They have life within, and we are alive only because of them.

Each of us has dreams, we want to be able to dream. Dreams occur when we sleep in peace, and they come true when we wake to peace. Peace is not just what soldiers maintain at borders, it is something within and around us. It starts by you recognising yourself as a good man or woman, irrespective of your circumstances. If you are so, then you will see goodness in others, and that’s how you touch others to be good too. It starts with each of us in isolation, but works magic by spreading automatically.

That’s when we can say we have earned our lives. That’s when we earned our right to dream.