From Our Hearts to Yours - A Letter from the Director
The Dream Center takes a different approach to addressing our city-wide dilemma of drug addiction and homelessness. Every human being needs to feel loved, needed and wanted. Every human being needs to feel they have a voice that is heard, respected, valued and has influence.
I believe our system and its paradigms, a perspective or set of ideas, have people stuck in dependence. Each of us tends to think we are objective and see things clearly. However, as Anaïs Nin said so well, “We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.” Said differently, we see things as our experiences have conditioned us to perceive the world. For better or worse, right or wrong, our paradigms are the sources of our attitudes and behaviors, and ultimately affect our relationship with others.
The Dream Center founders, Linda Justin and Bill Beckim.
One of my favorite stories is a perfect example of this point. The teller of the story suddenly becomes compassionate when he sees the situation from another’s perspective.
A father enters the subway with three very disruptive children. The father sits slumped in his seat, seemingly unaware that his children are acting disorderly, being very loud, hitting passengers and ripping newspapers out of their hands. One passenger becomes very upset that the father is doing nothing to control his children and tells the father so. The father suddenly comes to life and is very apologetic. He explains that they had all just come from the hospital where his wife, and the children’s mother, had just passed away. He was aware that the children did not know how to handle the situation, as he didn't either. Suddenly, seeing things from another perspective, the upset passenger immediately changes his thinking. Things were truly not as they appeared!
How often do we do this? We typically judge things by the way we have become conditioned to see and hear, but we neglect to see things from another’s perspective, simply because we don't take the time to learn of, or perhaps we just don't care about, another’s plight.
What would happen if we had a paradigm shift, a fundamental change in basic concepts, learning to see the problem in a different way? Wouldn’t it be better if we could learn to focus on the other person’s viewpoint, as the passenger in the story came to do? Changing the way we see our city-wide problems could very well change the city for the better. I am a firm believer that the answer to every problem is in the problem! For example, firemen run into a burning building to put out the fire. We must be willing to make the effort to investigate why the problem exists before we can begin to solve it.
The people in our city we typically consider as the “problem” have been abandoned by society. They are frequently rejected, judged, unloved, unheard and simply put in a box and labeled as no good, lazy and worthless. All-too often we don't see those less fortunate and stuck in a less-than-desirable lifestyle as our brothers, and that we are responsible for treating them as such.
What if we took the time to find out what others have to say, what their dreams and aspirations are and who they are outside of their circumstances? What if we took the time to find out how these individuals got derailed and what they need to get back on track? What if we took the time to help them heal emotionally and grow into the person they are truly meant to be?
Why don't we surround these people with what they need, such as love, encouragement, support and hands on assistance that holds each other accountable in a loving manner? What if we had lunch with them, brought them into our family gatherings and partnered with businesses that would train them? How much of a difference could that make?
Truly, our system is broken and we are all at least partially to blame. Doesn’t this make us all responsible for the dilemma we find ourselves in? Are we not our brother’s keeper? At The Dream Center we believe we are. There are so many creative ways to reach out and help people. What can you do to lend a hand?
Director, The Dream Center