Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"If" by Rudyard Kipling (Part 4)

I love the poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling . . . thirty-two lines of wisdom that provide possibly the best instruction in manliness (why not womanliness, too?) written by a father to his son. The father concludes that if  his son will assimilate this good advice into his conduct, then

"Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Today we're looking at the next two lines, as follows:
"If you can dream - and not make dreams your master,
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;"

Let's look at these lines from a biblical perspective:

In Bible times night dreams could sometimes bring direct revelation from God. Think Joseph and Daniel. In our day, God may also speak to us through dreams. Some of our most intriguing thoughts come from dreams. For example, think science fiction. Where in the world do those notions come from--notions which often become reality decades later? (Is God giving us a bird's eye view of the future?) 
In any case, dreaming - whether asleep or awake - can bear fruit. Out of dreams come ideas that may lead to action and further the public good. I like what Robert Kennedy said about dreams. "There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why . . . . I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
Some dreamers, however,  become mastered by their dreams to the point they are unproductive, "pie in the sky" thinkers who become a drain on their families and society. No father wants this for his son or daughter.
Along similar lines, fathers want their children to be able to think. Thinking is obviously a good thing. But what about those who only think, and never do? Will thinking bring home the bacon or put bread on the table? Will thinking produce a clean house and clean clothes? Will thinking give children the hands-on instruction they need from their parents?

If thoughts become our sole aim, we neglect the practical. Like it or not, we live in the here and now and there are times when we must "stick to business."
The father in Rudyard Kipling's "If" says that if you do these things, you are on our way to owning the earth and everything that's in it, and - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!"
Tomorrow we'll discuss triumphs and disaster.

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