January 15, 2019
Last week an inmate shared a dream with me. He’s given me permission to publish it here.
I was in jail and the exit here is different, there are two gates, you go in one set of gates and then it closes behind you and then the next one opens and you go out. But in my dream both gates were open and I was standing there and then this group of people dressed in black, with masked faces, carrying guns shows up and they tell us to come with them, that they are breaking us out. I get really suspicious and I think they are not “real” gangsters but they are advocates and they are not going to get away with what they are planning so I don’t trust them. “They are not real gangsters” I keep telling myself. So I go to the COs [Correction Officers] and try to tell them what’s going on and I start shouting at the other inmates that it’s a trap and don’t go with them. I feel like whoever goes with the advocates is going to get caught and get extra charges and I don’t want more charges so I’m not going and I don’t want other people to go either.
The really interesting thing about this dream is that the dreamer has the belief that real gangsters could get him out of jail but advocates couldn’t. He even breaks “the code” of silence by going to the COs to alert them of the breach, meaning the advocates are not even worthy of his association or his support. This is a common belief in the world, where people have become accustomed to using power to get their own way and they don’t care who they hurt in the meantime. People can use a “gangster” attitude when they are trying to get what they want, even if they are white-collar leaders of a business or CEO of a corporation or principal of a school. The gangster attitude is about using powers of force and powers of numbers and powers of deception to get what they want which usually has something to do with getting large amounts of money, falsely presuming that money brings freedom in one way or another.
I find the metaphor of advocates here very intriguing. Advocates use many approaches to get the job done but essentially they are trying to go for change. They recognize an injustice and they plan some sort of method to get their change. Whether they try to achieve their aim by shooting down old out-dated models of education, rehabilitation, or social structures or try to achieve their goal by building up something new like building a new school or constructing a new court system or creating a new non-profit social enterprise.
The similarities between a group of anonymous activists and a group of masked gangsters are numerous. For one, they both have a collective vision of what they want to accomplish. Secondly, they are willing to take huge risks to strive for the goal they want. Thirdly, they accumulate power and momentum for their vision by attracting other like-minded people. Fourth, they are often willing to stop at nothing to actualize their goal.
The biggest difference, of course, is that gangsters are willing to completely ignore the law and advocates tend to try to change the law. Both groups are unhappy with the social structure, per say, and are willing to disregard it from one degree or another but the actions gangsters take tend to be quite illegal and even immoral, while the actions most advocates take tend to be more high-minded and within the bounds of commonly held moral or legal guidelines.
Why then would a dreamer trust gangsters more than advocates? What is the quality which is opening up within him? When he figures out the answer to this it will feel as though he is being released from jail, being released from an inner jail of fear.
The virtue and skill which advocates have which gangsters don’t have is Patience. Gangsters use power, authority and fear to control situations to get what they want quickly and with a lot of convenience, with guns or whatever. Advocates are usually patient in their approach and they may take a long time, months or years to achieve their goal. It’s not convenient but pays off in the long run.
This means the dreamer is working on developing Patience, doing things which take a long time to achieve, doing things which aren’t at all convenient but which get the job done without using fear or power to control others or situations. Patience is opening up to the dreamer now but because of past experiences when he tried to be patient with people and got hurt, he’s having trouble trusting the motives of people even when they have the same goal as him – getting out of jail.
Remember in a dream jail is a metaphor for being “trapped” in a condition of fear and being released from jail in a dream is a symbol for being released from an inner condition of fear. When the challenges are worked through, then a lot of positives can open up like Courage, Patience, and Determination.
In real life, when situations and opportunities for growth and change appear to the dreamer, he becomes afraid that he’s being trapped and so rather than go for the change he goes for protection, most likely because of experiences in childhood where it wasn’t safe to go for growth & change. In time, with a small bit of work on the issue daily then the dreamer will come to find he has a lot of Courage and Determination to see his plans through to the end.