Let these not be dead men’s dreams

Challenging words from 1969 on the anniversary of the oft-quoted “I Have A Dream” speech, and in the wake of a recent death of Canada’s elected political leader who dared to dream – and to fight – for this dream, and so many others.

Inconvenient Hero (Himes, 1969)

Now that he is safely dead

Let us praise him

build monuments to his glory

sing hosannas to his name.

Dead men make

such convenient heroes: They

cannot rise

to challenge the images

we fashion from their lives

And besides,

it is easier to build monuments

than to make a better world.

So, now that he is safely dead

we with eased consciences

will teach our children

that he was a great man…knowing

that the cause for which he lived

is still a cause

and the dream for which he died

is still a dream,

a dead man’s dream.

Some of Jack Layton’s last words ask us not to let the dream die with the man, and compels Canadians – and youth in particular – to build a better country:

We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. -Jack Layton, 2011

Let the monument we build be a “a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity”, and let the dream not die with the man.