Building the Dream of God

By Mark Buhlig

Recently, my friend Paula passed along the Summer 2019 issue of Hunger News and Hope. She correctly assumed I would be interested in a couple of the articles which expressed the work of good people dealing with the immigration issue and how it relates

to food insecurity. As it happens, these are two issues that we work on at Englewood Church in Kansas City and our associated food sovereignty and security project Englewood Community Farm. The articles, "Food Security and Migration" by Adrienne Kruse and "The Border Crisis" by Jeremy K. Everett speak to the connections between the new flood of people crossing at the southern border of the United States and how the new flood is connected to food insecurity both in their country of origin and their country of destination. According to Kruse, many are leaving Central America because of crop failures and arriving in the United States to find a system that is not always sympathetic to their basic need for food. I can only assume that many are traveling north looking for the American Dream. Sadly, the American Dream, ain’t what it used to be.

When I was a child some fifty years ago, I had a vague notion of the American Dream: a home, a fair chance at a good job where one worked hard but not too hard, an opportunity for leisure and the assumption that we would celebrate together the dreams we had realized and offer that opportunity to others who came to dream with us, who dared to dream with us, regardless of their country of origin. Even fifty years ago I expect that was more myth than dream. But I fear the dream is different today; I fear the old benign myth is being replaced by a more selfish myth. I fear the American Dream has become the dream of wealth beyond measure. Our heroes, those we aspire to be, now have names like Bezos and Buffet and Gates. Our aspirations are connected to wealth first and character maybe; comfort certainly and living by our values only if they don’t interrupt our American Dream

There is, I fear, not much that we as followers of Jesus can do to roll back the American dream. But perhaps that is for the best. Perhaps that will move us to separate the American dream from the Dream of God; for I fear the two have become conflated. The Dream of God is less about ownership and more about collaboration. The Dream of God is more about loving and sharing and caring than about acquiring. The Dream of God is loving our neighbor regardless of their birthplace. Sharing our resources with the neighbors we love, and caring for each other and for the earth, our common home. 

If we are going to dream, let’s dream well. If we are going to build a dream, let’s build the Dream of God and not the illusion that our wealth and our comfort have no cost. In so many ways the American dream, even the one of my youth, was built on the backs of others. Now that others are coming, let's ease their burden even if it means increasing ours. Sharing the burden of our neighbors may not be the fulfillment of the Dream of God, but I can't think of a better place to start. Can you?

Mark Buhlig is a pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the founder of Points on the Wheel, a support organization for communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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