Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream
The Disconnect Between Dreaming and Reality

One of my mentors in life is Pete Seeger. Seeger's singing and his lifestyle have guided me along with millions of others for much of the last half of the 20th century. I spent the 60s in college and graduate school here and abroad. During that decade, Seeger gave that generation the lyrics to face issues like racism and the war in Vietnam. He was able to get in the face of the opposition without being belligerent himself.

In addition, Seeger did what Bobby Kennedy preached all the time. Kennedy said, "Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not." Seeger was always pushing the envelope to dream the impossible and then to go out and work to realize the dream.

It is sad that neither Seeger nor Kennedy lived long enough to have realized all their dreams. Having said that, I will never forget Pete Seeger singing Joe Hill.

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die"

And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes.
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize"

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
where working-men defend their rights,
it's there you find Joe Hill,
it's there you find Joe Hill!

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

Joe Hill died 99-years ago for a crime that he did not commit. Again, the point of the lyrics is the dream. Read again this stanza:

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead"
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

Seeger sings that last night he saw Joe Hill and talked to him. He complains to Joe Hill that he died a decade ago. Joe Hill's response was hauntingly interesting: "'I never died' said he."

What Joe Hill said applies to both the lives of Seeger and Kennedy...they never died. Seeger, Kennedy, and Hill remain alive as long as there are those who follow them on the road down which they were headed. Both Seeger and Kennedy were my mentors even though I never met either of them. Both of them provided guideposts for my adult life.

Pete Seeger singing at Obama's first inauguration

Pete Seeger singing at Obama's first inauguration

However, I am struggling with relating dreaming to reality. Seeger tells us that he had the strangest dream that the world had agreed to end war.

Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream

Last night I had the strangest dream,
I'd never dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

I dreamed I saw a mighty room,
The room was full of men.
And the paper they were signing said
They'd never fight again.

And when the paper was all signed,
And a million copies made,
They all joined hands and bowed their heads,
And grateful prayers were prayed.

And the people in the streets below
Were dancing 'round and 'round,
While swords and guns and uniforms
Were scattered on the ground.

Last night I had the strangest dream,
I'd never dreamed before.
I dreamed the world had all agreed
To put an end to war.

Last night, I too had the strangest dream. It was Christmas Eve. As I awoke from that strangest dream of peace, I realized that we have a long ways to go before we can even begin to reverse the path of killing each other. This is true whether with international wars or wars on a more localized home front. Seeger's song has been translated and sung in over 66-different languages worldwide. Nonetheless, we listen to him sing it but turn a deaf-ear both to the song and its message.

As the New Year of 2015 is about to be ushered in, we need to do much more than what has been done over many millennia. There seems to be an intellectual disconnect between what we sing and what we do. We need to realize that we must stop this disconnect and then we need to get our dreams and action synchronized.

How 2015 is recorded in history books is both an open book, and it is open to us also. While Pete Seeger sang the song nicely, unless we address wars of many types, we will not be around for many more New Year's celebrations...we will all be dead. While that is not a melodic way of expressing that reality, it is true nonetheless. All we need to do is to connect the dots. Merely a glance, at the history of this century or the last century, will reveal the carnage of wars of all sorts.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. However, each one of us needs to do far more to bring peace on Earth this coming year. Last night I had and heard the strangest dream. This is what I heard ringing in my eyes....



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12/26/14