When you start getting serious about peacemaking, at some point you wind up asking: What causes violence in the first place? I found one oblique answer to this question in a poem by Langston Hughes:

 

          Harlem

What happens to a dream deferred?

     Does it dry up
     like a raisin in the sun?
     Or fester like a sore —
     And then run?
     Does it stink like rotten meat?
     Or crust and sugar over —
     like a syrupy sweet?

     Maybe it just sags
     like a heavy load.

     Or does it explode?

 

Um, yeah. Sometimes deferred dreams explode pretty violently. Obviously, on the surface level Hughes is telling us that the deferment of dreams through racial oppression may result in an explosion.

But isn’t a more general principle at work here? Think about the Gaza Strip, where two dreams are in collision: the dream of both the Palestinians and the Israelis to make a home in what each considers their exclusive homeland.

So we gotta watch out for those deferred dreams, right? But when I find one, how do I keep it from exploding?

Advertisements