Keeping the Dream Alive

Written by on June 4, 2018 in Song, Story and Poetry with 0 Comments

Dedicated to the Students of Tianamen Square and anyone who has ever experienced a tragedy.

Summer 1989. I remember standing in the living room, staring at my television screen in wonder. “Does the world realize what’s happening here?” I thought. Such courage, such hope. The students, the adults supporting the students, not just academia or activists, but regular citizens swept up with the optimism and tenacity of young people, young dreamers demanding change, demanding a voice.

I, too, felt the the inspiration sweeping over me oceans away. And yet, there was also fear. I feared for the students, I feared for their lives. I kept watch. The world kept watch.

Time… each day, I looked for news. And then images of tanks in the square flickered across the screen, no songs, no chants. Only destruction. I fell to my knees and wept.

The first thought that came to me was that the students would blame themselves. Surely, the government would. And though I had never experienced anything like that, I knew what it was like to be betrayed by someone who is supposed to protect you.

So I wrote this song.

It would be years before I would finally record Keeping the Dream Alive, but I have sung it in many places, including Tiananmen candlelight vigils, protests for asylum seekers and in private gatherings for abuse victims.

The first time I sang at a Tiananmen candlelight vigil in Washington, D.C. it was a hot night. We stood in front of the Chinese embassy. As I sang the chorus, I saw candles light up and voices drifting back to me.

They were singing in Chinese intermingling with the English lyrics. I never heard anything so beautiful. That night I told my song writing partner we had to record the chorus in both languages simultaneously, just as I heard it.

Today is June 4th, one date that represents a long span of growing hope, shattered dreams and now rising from the ashes. It’s happening.

Despite all efforts to quell the movement, the idea of freedom is persistent because it reflects the nature of the human spirit. Oppression is unnatural even though it appears to be characteristic of humankind. That’s why it causes so much pain, because the human spirit is not meant to be oppressed. It’s meant to be free.

There are still victims today… in every country.

But the dream lives on, because it doesn’t just come from what we want, but who we are. It beats in our hearts and as long as one person lives, the dream lives.

But we need to give it voice. Our voice.

That is what keeping the dream means.

~ demian

About the Author

About the Author: Demian Yumei, author, singer/songwriter and artist activist, using spoken, written word and original songs in her human rights activism. Demian is a traveler on the healing journey with a lifelong love affair with the creative process. .


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