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Turner's Two Cents

African American news from Pasadena - Turner's Two CentsDumping water into her daughter's face, the abusive mother scolds cruelly, "There you go dreaming again!"  Of all the horrendous things Mo'Nique's character says to her child in the film "Precious," that is one of the most malicious.  Abusers seek to destroy the spirit so, along with brutalizing the body through beatings, rape  and/or other horrors, they use verbal assaults to control the mind.  Like many victims, the title character in "Precious" seeks refuge inside the only safe space she knows - her imagination.  Precious' mom knows that her daughter has the capacity to liberate herself through her thinking, so she seeks to enslave the child psychologically by telling her that she is worthless and has no hope.  She tries to abort Precious' dreams before they hatch.  But, as Precious begins (with the help of a kind and patient teacher) to discover courage and love within, she begins to free herself from the nightmare that's been inflicted on her by her parents.  She realizes the life-changing power of her dreams.  Dreams are the doorway to liberation, empowerment and joy because they enable us to see beyond our circumstances.  The first step toward changing or escaping from a grim reality is to recognize there is a better world somewhere and to know that we have the right and the ability to flourish in that better world.  This is what the esteemed physicist Albert Einstein meant when he said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."

Even when we are powerless to change our physical surroundings, imagination enables us to endure and even transcend the worst conditions.  Clint Eastwood's new film "Invictus" dramatizes how South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela drew strength during his 27-year political imprisonment by reciting the empowering words of 19th century British poet William Ernest Henley:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul...

The title of Henley's poem, "Invictus," comes from the Latin for "unconquered."  The verses speak of the courage to face the worst outcomes of life - torture and death - without yielding one's spirit.  This is imagination, the power of dreams, at its most powerful.

Dreams are also the driving energy in Disney's animated family adventure "The Princess and the Frog."  The hard-working heroine, Tiana, pursues her goal of opening an elegant restaurant despite financial hardship, racist real estate agents and even a backfired voodoo curse that turns her into a green, web-footed amphibian.  In the end, Tiana achieves more than even she imagined.  This Disney fantasy is a glittering homage to the real-life tenacity and odds-defying success of African-Americans which has inspired struggling peoples all over the world.

The life-changing power of dreams is nothing short of extraordinary.  But grasping this power can be difficult.  So often we fall short of our greatness, or fail to find even simple happiness, because we focus on our perceived limitations and flaws.  We concentrate on what is rather than what can be.  But, when we lay hold to a greater vision - when we look beyond where and what we are and concentrate instead on what and where we could be - then we find that the wind begins to rise beneath our wings! 

So, during this holiday season, into the coming New Year and throughout all of our days and nights - may we all be sustained, inspired and filled with joy by the dreams which empower us all to live "unconquered!"

Thanks for listening.  I'm Cameron Turner and that's my two cents.


[Read more "Turner's Two Cents" on www.UrbanThoughtCollective.com, and www.PasadenaJournal.com.  In Los Angeles, watch Cameron Turner on "The Filter with Fred Roggin" selected weeknights at 7:30 on KNBC's digital companion station, NBC Plus (available on your local cable system).]


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