I dream things that never were and say why not.” ~
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950), Irish playwright.
This statement is dangerously unwise. It feels great to dream of an ideal world and lament its absence but effective leaders resist this temptation preferring to focus on reality.
G.B. Shaw (quoted above) was a devout Fabian socialist. He advocated equal pay to everyone and condemned private land ownership as “theft.” He righteously called non-vegetarians “cannibals” despite the fact that he believed in eugenics for humans. Arguing for a scientifically planned society, Shaw called for the development of deadly but “humane” gas for exterminating undesirables who are “not pulling their weight in the social boat.” His defenders claim such statements were satiric irony, but such was never made clear. No wonder he supported one of history’s greatest (and deadliest) dreamers—Joseph Stalin. As an avowed atheist, Shaw advocated the self as “God.” He was also known for many affairs with married women.
In today’s pleasure-pursuing, luxury-loving culture, Americans don’t like to think in terms of limitation. We want to have it all. We enrich and elect those who promise we can. We are addicted to dreaming. Magic Johnson concluded his autobiography with the following invitation: “Whatever your dream is, go for it.”
I am not ready to tell this to the thugs, liars, cheats, exploiters, oppressors and con-artists of the world. They dream too and their dreams become our nightmares. Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot and other tyrants went confidently in the direction of their dreams and lived the lives they imagined. No! All dreams should be subject to moral scrutiny and refined by reality.
Remember President Obama’s election victory speech in January, 2009? He proclaimed:
I am absolutely certain, that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs for the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal. This was the moment — this was the time — when we came together to remake this great nation.
Absolutely certain? The fans went wild.
President Obama’s policies, foreign and domestic, have been based on how he thinks the world should operate rather than on reality. Every major promise he made to pass the “Affordable Care Act” did not come to pass in reality, but I’m sure he wanted them to be true when he made them. He thinks our enemies simply need to be convinced that we mean well. This, he dreams, will minimize their resentment toward us and curtail their ambition in the world.
Meanwhile, pro-Russian forces just overran yet another Ukrainian military base unopposed. Responding with mere words, President Obama told a Dutch newspaper, “The United States does not view Europe as a battleground between East and West, nor do we see the situation in Ukraine as a zero-sum game. That’s the kind of thinking that should have ended with the Cold War.”
“Should have?” Sorry sir, but it didn’t.
He continued, “As I’ve said, the future of Ukraine ought to be decided by the people of Ukraine.”
“Ought to be?”
Our president’s naiveté is not safe for the free world. Mere words can get a candidate elected easy enough in America, but they cannot make him into a leader.
President Obama is the antithesis of George Washington. Our first president resolved to see and deal with things as they were in reality rather than how he desired or dreamed them to be. Leaders pay greater attention to actions than to words or intentions. On December 15, 1779, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army wrote:
A slender acquaintance with the world must convince every man, that actions, not words, are the true criterion of the attachment of his friends, and that the most liberal professions of good will are very far from being the surest marks of it. (Letter to Major-General John Sullivan)
As president in 1795, Washington wrote the following to Edmund Randolph: “There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” All leaders pay lip service to this pursuit but Washington actually ran that course.
Finally, check out the following quip attributed to comedian George Carlin:
Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.