Picture this: You are alone in a canoe, gently drifting down a wide river. The sky is blue with white cloud puffs. Kingfishers dip into the water, and egrets, and ospreys soar overhead. Towering oaks and sycamores on shore hang out over the sparkling water. It could not be more beautiful.
Then you notice that the river starts to narrow, and the current begins to pick up. In the distance you hear the muffled sound of what could be a very big rapid or even a waterfall. You don’t think too much about it, then suddenly your paddle slips into the water. By this time the current is actually getting pretty strong, and the muffled noise is becoming louder. You lunge for the paddle, which is swept away out of reach. There is no way now to steer the canoe.
Then on shore to your left you see a large crowd, some of whom you recognize as friends. They are very much aware of what is happening to you and holler and scream for you to get closer to shore. They seem to sense that disaster is about to happen. Many are waving American flags. You are lucky that an eddy has allowed the canoe to move closer to shore, perhaps even within swimming distance.
The river has continued to narrow considerably, and you notice on the opposite shore another large crowd, also waving American flags. This crowd is angry and upset about something and is shouting obscenities and shaking their fists. You notice a few posters but can’t make out what they say. “Stay the course,” this crowd is yelling, “Stay the course!” Some have guns and are shaking them in the air.
You can’t figure out what to do or what is going on. The sound you hear now is a deafening thunder, and you know it is a waterfall. You have got to make a decision. Someone shouts from the opposite shore . “Stay the course! We own that canoe now. It belongs to us!”
“Jump now,” your friends are yelling. “This is your last chance!”
You have no choice. You jump. You are a pretty good swimmer and are making headway toward the shore where the friendly crowd is beckoning and cheering, “You can do it! You can make it!”
Then you hear something pelting the water like rain drops. Could it be bullets falling from the sky from guns fired from the angry crowd on the opposite shore? You begin to tire and struggle. You sense your life depends on making it to shore but feel like you are in limbo, swimming hard but stalled out. You struggle and fear you aren’t going to make it as you begin to feel yourself being dragged slowly by the current toward the waterfall….
And then you wake up. In a cold sweat.
You breathe a long sigh. “Thank God,” you say out loud, “just a nightmare, a really, really bad dream.”
At breakfast you read the news headlines, and you understand. You know.