Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
In the dream I found myself in a very large group of people. We were gathered in a school that had been converted to what appeared to be a temporary health information gathering facility.
We had each been given a large, clear plastic bag filled with multi-page forms and, of all things, a urine specimen container (weird, I thought, even in my dream).
Some people were at tables penciling in their data, others, including me, were already in the long lines to the bathrooms.
As dreams go, this scene was in media res, in the middle of the action. All I could discern was that it was a big effort and well-organized. Besides my normal irritation with filling out forms and providing biological specimens, I was irritated, no, unnerved, by the fact that nobody was talking.
Nobody was asking any questions, protesting—not even chit-chatting. They all seemed in their own worlds.
So I began reading through the forms to see if this might help me figure it all out and to see if there was an “opt out” clause anywhere. Then I awoke.
Curiously, what was front and center in my mind at the moment the surreality of the dream cleared was a fragment of Matthew 5:37 where Jesus advises: “…let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’” .
There, Jesus was advising against taking rash oaths—to any person, place, or thing. So I thought the answer to my immediate question in the dream of why we were all here doing as presumably commanded by some unknown person might have some connection to some kind of oath, pledge, commitment, or perceived obligation.
But the dream stayed with me.
I pondered further…
JUST GO ALONG
This then got me to thinking about how many times human beings tend to go along to “get along” or because somebody or some entity insists, overtly or covertly, “this is the way.”
In the spiritual realm, I follow the directive of the prophet who originally gave that advice . But in the “natural realm,” as it were, I have learned to be aware of the genesis of certain commands, to be very aware of who wants me to do what, why, when, and where, before I blindly follow someone who may turn out to be just another Pied Piper in plain clothes, whether he is on some mysterious data collection quest or working some other plan.
Not that I have never gone over some cliff of presumption or of pressure.
But I try to remember another piece of Scriptural advice, paraphrased, “understand them by their fruits”  before knee-jerking in response to somebody’s real or engineered urgency.
But what, I wondered, still not completely satisfied I had my full interpretation, was the larger context, here, particularly in these days of growing global pressure, not just of the peer variety, but of the societal, governmental, and/or political? What was the take-away of the dream?
I strongly suspected it meant much more in these days of powers mongering more blatantly for control–and redacting the fine print when people begin asking questions. And clever cons they are, too, those power mongers, through the use of mechanisms that make the people believe their compliance is volitional. (This reminds me of an old saying: “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”)
The people, including me, in my dream seemed willing to do what was ordered/asked of them, and I didn’t know which impetus it was: an order or a request. Nevertheless there we were…complying…with no visible means of control…
Then this came to mind: how we human beings are easily duped.
Despite our cleverness, smartness, intelligence, education, human nature remains the same.
Of course, there are also those who are duped because of clever con artists who, by flashing some shiny rhetoric here, donning a sugar coat of charm there (and throwing in some “free” stuff for good measure), know they do not need to use a club to garner compliance. All they have to do is employ the best ploy money and psychological operations can buy, open wide the gates (for now), and “they will come.”
Well, most will come…and the club is always available for the others…
So what, I asked, would the antidote be?
It’s what, I realize, I “heard” as I awoke. With a little elaboration for good measure.
YES? OR NO?
Ever engage in an argument with a con artist (political, social, spiritual)? A fool? A traitor?
Ever win in the end?
Maybe so but probably not.
Perhaps these verses from Proverbs 26 shed some light:
Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or you will become as foolish as they are.
Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or they will become wise in their own estimation. (4-5)
Although they seem contradictory, a wise person knows when not to answer the fool, as arguing will only cause more grief, and when to answer the fool to set matters straight. And both are best done simply. Perhaps with either “yes” or “no,” as it were.
For as another Scripture indicates, there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7), a time to act and a time to refrain. Jesus, for example, knew when it was time to disappear from within the murderous crowd as well as when to pose questions to the posers…
So what does this have to do with weird dreams about health forms and opt out clauses and the pressure to conform to something advertised as good for you but what might not be? Just, I think, that dreams can sometimes shed light on reality and perhaps offer useful advice, if in metaphor. At least I believe this dream does.
My pondering ended with a kind of plan of action I thought I would share in this series, for these are the days, friends, we especially need plans. These are the days when many, it seems, legions perhaps, are out to deceive–in all realms–as never before. We need all the help we can get.
Engage at will—and at every opportunity:
- Observe fully,
- Listen carefully,
- Think critically,
- Pray, and
- Respond, or not, according to what wisdom you can muster.
(And beware of people requesting specimens who do not show you the fine print, first.)
 John 14:6.
 Isaiah 30:21
 Matthew 7:20