The National, Wednesday July 11th, 2012
A VISIONARY looks down the passage of time and space and has a sense of what is coming ahead.
She or he then plans accordingly to avert bad outcomes or make good use of opportunities to advance the cause of the unit s/he is in charge of – the family, tribe, company or nation.
Joseph, in the Bible, was such a character. That ability to understand dreams saved Egypt, the world around and his family.
Another Bible character is Daniel. The first four chapters of Daniel (the book) are in simple narrative, and I urge you to read them.
Daniel was the one who prophesied the rise and fall of the great empires of the world (Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman) and interpreted King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Yes, Daniel prophesied the future of the world.
Daniel remained a chief adviser to at least three empires – Babylonian, Median and Persian.
The different rulers valued the gift that Daniel possessed.
As mentioned last week, visionaries (or in a broader sense, those who dare dream) are valued in traditional societies.
The illiterate Lakota Indian medicine man John Lame Deer (assisted by Richard Edoes) said in the book Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions that visions were important for all leaders in their Sioux nation.
Any boy who is marked for a leadership role as a medicine man must go out to capture a vision in the hills under the open skies.
Without a vision, no Lakota boy can become a man.
He recalls his own day when, as a boy, he was brought up alone, by an old medicine man, to a hill top to spend days without food and water in the hope of catching a vision.
“If Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, would give me the vision and the power, I would become a medicine man,” Lame Deer said in the book.
Here are some lessons.
First, visionaries are chosen. Not everybody can see into the future.
Second, visions/dreams are best captured when one is away from the crowd. Moses saw the burning bush in the desert.
Third, a vision helps a group of people, not just the dreamer.
Fourth, visions are not given in schools. They are captured in life out in the open.
Fifth, visions differ from person to person. What one visionary sees, another might not.
Note that a good visionary must distinguish real visions from fantasies. Visions can be realised but fantasies may never.
Next week: Physicist: The unprepared eye does not see