On the Corner
by Robert Doctor –
Nothing happens unless first…the dream.
I speak of daylight dreams
and create from them a vision
from which I may shape a mission
that drives me toward new goals
to which I fashion commitment
based on thoughtful, activating passion
on which I steadily persevere
to completion at the very end.
Daylight dreams are not forgotten on waking.
Their memory traces disturb and agitate.
They rouse and trouble souls.
Their voices sing louder.
They threaten and cajole. They push and press ’til recognized.
They laugh and shove themselves into a constant consciousness.
Only action satisfies their restless demand.
Joan Kroc had such a dream. It would not let her go. She wrestled with it for a time.
She had the ideals, and once they merged with her ideas she acted. The dream became reality—a recipe for actualization of potential.
It is a dangerous business to arrive in eternity with
possibilities which one himself has prevented from
from becoming actualities.
The dream focused on human beings—infants—children—adults—the elderly. Its content concerned ways to help each person begin the process of building or re-building a complete life. Her dream sought to help all move towards greater measures of personal autonomy and a “winner’s spirit.”
Her mission became those among us labeled “at risk,”—vulnerable, at a turning point in life—on the edge of a developmental crisis to be resolved either positively or negatively by the types of experiences afforded and pursued.
She sensed what it took to build a life and knew from personal experience the importance of environmental stimulation, of quality helping relationships, of challenges accepted and individual goals identified. She knew the power of encouragement and the courage it enlivens.
She knew the influence of the arts and humanities in creating a life described in positive terms. In her own life she experienced the conquest of fear demanded by competitive athletic participation, and discovered the measureless potential of its transfer to other areas of life. She became aware of the energy released through multigenerational relationships. She recognized that injustice often has its roots in prejudice and poverty, and that it is, in fact, a call to compassion.
She got to know the century-long commitment of this Army to the total person—the physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual.
She recognized that these are not discrete entities in and of themselves, but are integrated within everyone with each a power source to the other. Her dream sought to create a means for this integration to take place. She explored us, examined us, became familiar with our history and with our present. She found an empathic resonance with herself in this Army, ready to “take the final leap into the arms of a crucified Savior.”
Trust is a remarkable quality whose foundation is constructed on humility. It’s risky, but trust held no threat for Joan Kroc—no ambivalence or doubt—no hesitancy of spirit or action. She learned that we were trustworthy—that we could be trusted. She saw her own humility mirrored in the hearts and lives of the Army people she met.
She saw and heard testimony of changed lives—people now fully alive. She met people who had found new goals, different values— people whose worldview had shifted from self-centeredness to a commitment to others. She resonated to the peace evident within individuals with a new outlook on human relationships.
She learned that we love sinners non-judgmentally in the manner of Christ’s love and grace. She knew we fought against any form of slavery that objectifies the human spirit and reduces people to dehumanized captives.
Her discoveries led her to become friends with a wide range of great people. Each seems to bear the mark of her humility—from magnificent artists and musicians, great athletes, university presidents, former leaders of our nation—and Salvation Army officers, working in the trenches to actualize her dream.
She made the institution possible. Now, the work begins in these selected “Kroc Centers” throughout the West and the nation. We must never minimize or diminish the quality of the very dream that defines our identity.