Other Dreams Deferred


By Langston Hughes

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?

A picture doesn’t lie.  The photographer’s image of Aylan, a young Syrian child clad in a red T-shirt and blue shorts washed ashore in Turkey, has gone viral.  He was found near the body of his older brother. Their mother also drowned. The young father and husband is devastated; he has returned to Syria with three coffins.  His dreams have exploded.

As of this writing, hundreds of refugees have begun a 100-mile long march across Hungary to the border of Austria, where they hope to begin new lives  after fleeing war and poverty in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Their dreams are festering.

On and on it goes.  Every day’s horror seems to top the last. Media interviews with refugees are heart-breaking.  Their home countries and their homes are being destroyed by warfare.  Food or water are scarce.  As all parents  everywhere, they want safety for their children first, then good health and an education.  So they flee.

Today, as I listened to a mother of three daughters describe a heLangston Hughesllish existence in Syria and just as hellish boat trip to Turkey and then travel to Northern Europe, I thought of the poem A Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes. Hughes’ poetry refers to the fate of African-Americans – and his assessment on the fate of their dreams is still true.

It is also true across the Middle East, Africa, and South America.  Millions of people face turmoil, hunger, poor health, homelessness, and terror.  But they also face the fact that while they are in limbo, for whatever reason, their dreams are deferred.

And how will our civilization survive when all the dreams have exploded?

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