When John Lennon penned the song 'Imagine' we were at war in a foreign country that we had invaded for what proved to be bogus reasons; we were struggling socially with discrimination against and dehumanization of whole races, classes, genders, religions, sexual preferences, and national origins of humanity; we had seen popular leaders murdered in acts of domestic terrorism, and we were learning that our own government was capable of acting in direct contradiction to the laws and constitution it's leaders were sworn to defend. The national agenda seemed controlled by religious zealots and the "military-industrial complex" who used the media, fear (especially of nuclear war), prejudice and super-patriotism to distract the masses.
Mired in the darkness of our collective reptilian self-preservation instincts, we found the word "Imagine" turning on a light of hope. Lennon helped us visualize the way we might want things to be, unencumbered by the institutions and selfish motivations that had brought us to that point.
Imagination may just be the quality that sets humanity apart from the rest of the animal world. It is the muse of the writer, the vision of the artist, the hypothesis of the scientist. With imagination, we can see where we want to go and not just where we have been. We can know that the way things are now does not have to be the way things will always be. And we can part the clouds of fear to make a case for love.
'Imagine' was released on September 9, 1971. Two years and three months later a "Unitarian-Universalist Revival" was held by imaginative UU's at the Miami Church, and SWIM was born. As we begin our fourth decade, the need to imagine courageously has never been more compelling.
SWIM is a week-long gathering in the mild South Florida sun where individuals are allowed and encouraged to imagine - and to re-imagine their lives and their world. WonÕt you come imagine with us?
- Vonnie Hicks, Director, S.W.I.M. 2003
As humans, we must imagine before anything can exist. The workings of an atom, the process of photosynthesis, the meaning of a word: these things are out there, but to become items we can discuss, question, or embrace, they must be imagined. In order to enter our consciousness, they must be a product of an imagination before they ever become real to us.
No one has witnessed an atom, electrons bouncing about a cluster of forces - but we have all these great drawings, these imaginings of how it must be. To imagine is to open the self to creativity, to expand beyond what already exists into the world of what may exist. The lucky ones get paid to imagine - leaping from what is known into the world of theory, of possibilities.
The rest of us simply do it in order to survive.
- Britt Dunn, President, S.W.I.M. Board of Trustees