BPD Update Online, Fall 2004
BackPage: I Had a Dream
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By Ralph Holcomb

Summary of an acceptance speech given upon receipt of the Minnesota Social Worker of the Year Award.

I am practically speechless as I stand here before you. And yet, because there's nothing that delights a professor more than to find himself alone at the podium in front of a captive audience, I will soldier on so I may exploit the lucky situation I've gotten myself into.

I had a dream. It happened last night as I was watching the news on my non-cabled TV. I leaned back in my chair and fell into a dream-like state -- a kind of fuzzy stupor that mirrored my TV reception. In my dream I was transported to an alternate universe where I watched a broadcast of the news I craved to hear, rather than the news I was hearing.

First up on the news was a report on Ronald Reagan's death and an excerpt from one of his most famous speeches. In it, the Gipper spoke of how it was Morning in America. He related a story in his folksy way of a young single mother who, through the seamlessly coordinated efforts of county, state, and federal governments, was given a generous helping hand so she could simultaneously raise her child and earn a college degree. The woman was now contributing back to her community, and her daughter was growing up secure in the knowledge that there were always caring others around to help out if you find yourself in trouble. As was common with Reagan, the mother and daughter existed only in his mind, but his speech illustrated the point that he was tirelessly dedicated to doing everything he could to reverse the trend of greed and selfishness that pervaded American society during his years of political influence. The reporter noted that Reagan's legacy was the optimism he transmitted to all of us about generous giving of ourselves for the good of others, which he had labeled labeled "joyous altruism." We will all remember, the broadcaster concluded, the special concern he had in his heart for the poor and downtrodden of this country and the world.

Next up on the news was a report on the day's press conference by Donald Rumsfeld in the Pentagon. The video clip showed Rumsfeld leaning into the microphone and saying, "Let's admit it. The US military is really fantastic at killing people, but fails miserably at building community. That's why I've decided to activate the Social Work Corps." The broadcaster returned to give more background on the Social Work Corps. As she spoke, stock footage played behind her of social workers in Desert Storm camouflage parachuting from C-110 transport planes. Among the proudest members of the Corps, the broadcaster explained, is the Jane Addams Battalion, dedicated to non-violence, and the 101st Chairborne, whose insignia is an office chair with wings. The 101st are highly skilled professionals dedicated to moving paper faster than anybody else.

Next up on the broadcast was the report that the May Index of Social Satisfaction was about to be announced by the Chair of the President's Council of Social Welfare Advisors. The Bush administration was very concerned because analysts predicted there might be as much as a quarter-percent downturn in the index of community well-being. The broadcast went on to feature two social workers with opposing views discussing what impact this percentage change might have for the administration and the nation as a whole. The newsreader ended the report by announcing, "We'll be looking at this news in greater detail at 10 during our Nightly Social Welfare Report, a full half-hour of all the latest numbers, views and breaking news from the nation and the world."

The final report of the evening was a short clip on the Social Worker General, the Presidential appointee whose main job was to use the bully pulpit of her office to highlight the Bush Administration's social welfare initiatives. She announced an ambitious plan to provide fast direct in-person assistance to every American household faced with difficult parenting situations. The report concluded with the Social Worker General saying, "We need to reduce response time to five minutes - that's five minutes from the initiation of the call to the social worker's knock on the household's door. The stakes are just too great. As the President has repeated on many occasions, good parenting is this Administration's highest priority, and when parents need help, they need it now!"

I was jolted awake after I rolled off the chair and hit my head on the floor. When I opened my eyes, my daughter was standing over me, asking if I was all right. I gripped her shoulders and stared fiercely back into her eyes, and said to her what I will say to you now: "You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Someday I hope you'll join me, and the world will live as one."

BackPage is an opportunity for you to share about a joy or trial you've experienced as a social work faculty member. Please send your short essay for consideration to: caroljwilliams@worldnet.att.net

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Spiral, Horizontal Line Spinning

BPD Update Online, Volume 26, No. 3, Fall 2004

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