Fox News TV celebrity and all-round fruit loop Glenn Beck held a rally for his followers in Washington DC last Saturday. The date just happened to be August 28, the same date that Martin Luther King held his famous “March on Washington,” the culmination of which was his legendary “I Have A Dream” speech.
[If that doesn’t make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, nothing will.]
Dr. Martin Luther King had a dream.
What is a dream? One definition: “a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep”. That is to say: weird shit that happens while you sleep; see here for another famous dream:
A second definition is more apt: “a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal.” This was Martin Luther King’s type of dream. He was an idealist, who believed in a better world. He didn’t settle for incremental advances: “maybe if they integrate the high schools, we’ll be OK with segregated universities” or “if we can sit at the front of the bus we’ll be OK not sitting at the lunch counter”. He wanted it all, and his dream has, over time, largely been attained. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, and the USA has since become a more integrated society – not a perfect one, but better.
I also have a dream. It’s only a wee one, and nothing in comparison to Dr King’s, but it’s a dream nonetheless. My dream: I’d like Scotland to qualify for a major international tournament in the next 10 years.
To do so will require dedication, hard work, moments of great skill, and some luck. We may need to do things we didn’t think possible (beat the world’s best team at Hampden!) and avoid things we think are inevitable (losing to them in Spain). But this is the stuff that dreams are made of, right?
I’m not sure that Craig Levein shares my dream. He’s been quoted in the press denying that our opening game, away to Lithuania, is a must-win. In his opinion, winning all our home games is more important. And sure, right now I’d take a draw with Lithuania if it means we beat Spain at Hampden. Beating the reigning European and world champions? That would indeed be a dream (third definition: “a person or thing perceived as wonderful or perfect”). But they’re not mutually exclusive results – we can win both, we should want both, and I do.
The last major tournament Scotland attended was the World Cup Finals in France, 1998. Our first game after that tournament was – you guessed it – away to Lithuania. Craig Brown was still the manager, and Scotland drew 0-0. After the game, he wasn’t happy with the performance or the result but he also stated, “I am certain that other teams will struggle here. I would not bet on the Czech Republic getting all three points, for instance.”
A month later, the Faroe Islands also drew 0-0 in Vilnius. A year later, the Czechs won 4-0 there. Scotland finished a dozen points behind the Czechs, and so our 12-year sequence of non-qualification began with a playoff defeat to England. As you may have guessed from my introduction, I am no fan of George W Bush, but he did popularise one phrase that has always stuck in my mind: “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” In other words: if we don’t expect, we won’t achieve.
I am worried that unless we change our expectations – or more specifically, unless Craig Levein changes his – my dream will match the fourth definition: “an unrealistic or self-deluding fantasy.”
Photo Credit: The British Postal Museum and Archive