If You Build It . . .
/ Author: Dennis Perrin
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If You Build It . . .

Dreams that become reality are often led by visionaries who dared to think differently and through great determination and sacrifice make them happen. But dreams often don’t just end there

By Dennis Perrin, Prairies Director

Recently, I had the pleasure of watching the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, and James Earl Jones. I enjoyed watching this movie as a child when it was first released, and this time I enjoyed experiencing it with my 12-year-old son.

The movie is a magical story about baseball and one who dares to dream. My son and I share a love for baseball, so the movie seemed fitting on a Sunday afternoon. One needs to suspend one’s sense of disbelief and just dream for awhile to really enjoy this great film.

Field of Dreams profiles the character of Ray Kinsella (Costner) who plows under half of his corn crop to make room for a baseball field. He does so at the prompting of a voice that tells him, “If you build it, he will come.” He believes the voice to be that of the great and legendary baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson.

Kinsella’s actions bring shock and surprise to his family and friends. Who in their right mind would do something so ridiculous?

His brash idea soon meets with a harsh dose of reality. Despite these legendary ballplayers being brought back to life on his field, he is met with great financial hardship and is in jeopardy of losing his entire farm and thus his livelihood.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know how the story ends. Spoiler alert: Kinsella’s dream turns into reality, and his critics soon believe in him.

Watching the movie gave me pause to think of some of the great visionaries of our recent past—from civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to former Apple CEO Steve Jobs—and even to present day tech visionaries like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. These individuals possessed a dream and forged ahead despite great uncertainty along the way and, in the case of Dr. King, great sacrifice, before they ultimately achieved their dream.

The same can be said of CLAC. Our union was started in the early 1950s by a band of unionists who didn’t agree with the traditional approach to unionism.

They dreamed of a union that would represent workers in a unique way. A way that viewed the work community in a holistic light. A way that saw cooperation as a means to a better workplace. A way that sought to provide for the financial, physical, and mental health of workers.

The road ahead for these CLAC visionaries included many sacrifices and sleepless nights and untold amounts of turmoil from those who disagreed with them. But they persisted and prevailed.

Little did they know that one day the little union they founded would grow to represent thousands of workers right across Canada. Their dream became our reality, and for that we are grateful.

Most of us don’t come up with our dreams in the middle of a corn field, and not all dreams become reality. But there’s a lot to celebrate when they do come true, even though they often lead to even more work and sacrifice.

That’s certainly true for Dr. King’s dream of a world in which we are no longer defined by race. Much remains to be done. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we’re not only vulnerable to infectious disease, but also to prejudice.

It’s also true for tech visionaries like Jobs, Gates, and Musk. By pushing the boundaries of technology, they’ve inspired new dreams for how we can harness innovation to better humanity.

And it’s also true for CLAC. Our recent National Convention showed us that in pursuing our dream of justice in the workplace, we still have much to do. As CLAC celebrates its 69th anniversary in a few months time, let’s celebrate the dream that’s come true, and work diligently to carry that dream forward. 

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