Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries once said, “We imagine a world with no prisons and then we create that world.” I love that quote. I’ve repeated it to other people and the response is almost always the same—”Wouldn’t that be nice, but it will never happen.” I know for myself that visualizing anything and really believing that my vision could come true, takes constant vigilance over my state of mind. Truthfully, I’ve been more of a hope-for-the-best but don’t-count-on-it-happening kind of person. Before I met my husband Rich, I had been single for a very long time. One day a friend suggested I write a list of all the qualities I would like my new husband to have and put it under my pillow. I might have done that for a few days, but I very quickly told myself the whole idea was stupid, and I threw the list in the trash. I was operating out of a very old story that I would be alone forever, and that story took over while I wasn’t watching. Nevertheless, three months later I met my wonderful husband. Lucky coincidence for a skeptic? Perhaps. Good things can happen anyway even if we don’t believe they can? Sure. But what more power and positivity could I/we amass if we align with what we have dismissed as impossible and believe it possible? Would I really be naïve to imagine a world without prisons and devote myself in my one small corner of the universe to creating that world? Or can I throw my doubts in the trash instead of my list of prayers for humanity and can I make up my mind to keep those prayers alive in my heart and in everything I write?
Isn’t it kind of crazy that we build our lives on hopes, dreams, and prayers and all that they inspire in our imagination as far as material development goes, but when it comes to what we want most in our personal lives with other people we so often keep the door to doubt wide open and the door to belief only slightly ajar? We’ve imagined refrigerators and ovens, rockets and computers, organ replacement and artificial limbs. Human beings are endlessly creative and capable. What if all that imagination was now funneled into research and development of the most peaceful, loving, and safe human relations? What if we stop saying it will never happen and say it can? Investing billions to send telescopes into outer space to unravel the origins of the universe isn’t considered naive. Investing in a world without prisons, without hate, rape, murder, starving children, war and dying species isn’t naïve either. It’s our next big imagination. My coming book, “America in Therapy,” is a list, a prayer, and an imagination I will keep under my pillow and bring into the light of day.