We’re all familiar with the admonition, “Oh, that’s just wishful thinking,” as if wishful thinking is some unrealistic Pollyanna idea. Contrary to most western teaching, I think we need more wishful thinking. Wishful thinking is important.
I am inspired by the words of Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of The Secret Garden. She has said, “At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, and then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done – Then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.”
These words remind me that so many great ideas have come first through someone’s imagination. At first the idea might seem strange and outlandish even if it is something that everyone wants. There are plenty of people who say, “It’s too good to be true.” We can be very quick to negate some new idea because we don’t want to be disappointed. This can lead to a habit of cynicism or a contemptuously distrustful attitude, a sneering disbelief. It seems to me this kind of attitude has been dressing itself up under the guise of critical thinking. Let’s not be fooled any longer into mistaking cynicism for critical thinking. The need for expansive thought and considered, wishful, thinking has never been more urgent than it is now.
I was excited by an example of such new thinking while watching the Star Trek movie, First Contact. In the movie, a woman from mid-twenty-first century Earth asks twenty-fourth century Captain Picard, “How much money do you make?” For a moment a quizzical look crosses the captain’s face, then he nods knowingly and tells her that in his time they’ve done away with money. People in his century work not for money but to better themselves.
What a refreshing concept. Even though I may not know all that would be involved for such a world to exist, I do know it is good and right for all human beings to be nourished and cherished and to have their basic needs cared for in such a way that work becomes a matter of personal choice and expression rather than a choice of how to make money.
We bring the world forth with our beliefs whether they are conscious or unconscious. In order to bring about the highest good we must unlock our genius, and the best way to do that is to be in conversation with one another, listening deeply, sharing our hopes and dreams. More than ever these times demand that we seek others who understand the value of such conversations of shared meaning. I invite you to explore some creative wishful thinking in your own life. What do you wish for?
– Justine Willis Toms