In the 1998 film “What Dreams May Come,” Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, and Cuba Gooding perform in a vision of the afterlife where our will shapes our experiences. It is an extraordinary gift to discover our selves through life then celebrate the joys of those discoveries throughout eternity. Hope springs from this expansive view of the human soul.
The story pulls the viewers through crippling losses, depression, and suicide, leaving the audience gasping at the horrors we might inflict. Suffering remains the blight of our lives. The worst pain is to imagine that fate continuing past death. Yet it is the grace of daily life that so many people routinely ignore.
How quickly does a pedestrian forget a car letting him pass across the road? How easily overlooked is someone helping to bag groceries at the store? Occasionally, there are efforts to encourage more kindness in the world, but where is the focus on the appreciation and encouragement we need to offer in sustaining that generosity?
No financial reward can produce more patience and compassion in the world. This truth is the heart of stories like “What Dreams May Come.” A person’s emotional integrity drives a hard bargain. When confronted with a choice that forces us to sacrifice everything we know, too often cowardice forces a person into compromise. The compromise is the easier option; it is yielding part of our character to preserve the familiar and comfortable.
The beloved community requires more from every human being. It is not enough to simply bargain away pieces of our individual dignity through market transactions over the course of our lives. Sometimes, we have to look evil in its face and turn it back with no thought to personal loss.
In that fleeting moment of confrontation, we save our selves and each other. We provide the opportunity to pursue and to create greater dreams than we imagined yesterday. We become the hope so essential to life itself.