1.) New York’s Youth Poet Laureate, Ramya Ramana, reading her poem titled “New York City” at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s inauguration (transcript available here):
When I watch this young woman read, I can almost believe that change is possible. That the tides are turning. That we, the people, can and will rise.
Not just because of the beauty and fierceness and demand for justice that shines so clearly through her performance–although that alone is enough to blow me away.
But because this beauty and fierceness and demand for justice takes place at the swearing-in of a new mayor in the city that is America’s heart. The city that has been sanitized and stratified by 12 years of Bloomberg’s neoliberal policies. The city that has become an extreme–and extremely visible–symbol of an economic system that crushes lives and spirits.
The city that refuses to give up fighting.
In that fight, I see a world of new beginnings.
2.) Rebecca Solnit’s essay, “The arc of justice and the long run: hope, history, and unpredictability.”
Solnit argues that “[s]ometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see its curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc.” She gives examples of social and political seeds that germinated for years, decades, even centuries before bearing fruit: the role of hip-hop in the Arab Spring uprisings; the influence of Thoreau’s writing, which sold few books when he was alive, on both Gandhi and King; the effect that a seeing a talented black trumpet player had on a young man who grew up to help end segregation by aiding the plaintiffs in Brown v. Board of Education.
With my carpool buddies Eli, Dorian, Nikki, and Dan
A theme that came up over and over again at Monday’s rally was love.
It came from Turner Bledsoe, a 79-year old who had walked the entire 70 miles of the march. He said, “It’s a march of love–love and concern. I want your lives to be as good as mine was.”
It came from Ben Thompson, a student activist who is taking time off from grad school to pursue climate justice full-time. He said, “Our activism is a series of acts of love.”
It came from the dancing, the music, the blisters on the feet of everyone who walked for six days straight.
It came from the fervent, shared hope for a better world.
A world in which, as Ben said, no one would have to die so that others can have meaningful work. A world in which no one would have to die so that a mother can turn on a light to read to her child.
Building the bridge from our world to that world is doing to take strength we can barely imagine.
We can only do it with love.
We will rise up.
…along came David Roberts, and made a mind-blowingly good observation:
Will unexpected, rapid changes in coming decades be good or bad, positive or negative? That depends on millions of individual choices made in the interim. Some of those choices, if they happen at just the right moment, could be just the perturbations that spark cascading changes in social, economic, or technological systems. Some of those choices, in other words, will be incredibly significant.
Which ones? That we cannot know. It could be any of them, any time. Precisely because we cannot know — because any one of our choices might be the proverbial butterfly’s wings — we must act. We must take advantage of every affordance, grasp every opportunity. We don’t know when history might unlock the door, so we have no choice but to keep pushing on it.
Also an important point:
Remember, there is no “too late” here, no “game over” — it will be a tragedy to shoot past 2 degrees to 3, but 4 is worse than 3, and 5 is worse than 4. Being unprepared for any of those will be much worse than being prepared. The future always forks; there are always better and worse paths ahead. There’s always a difference to be made.
Go read the whole thing, in which he draws inspiration from chaos theory and history. His perspective is new and original–and seriously, stunningly hope-inducing.
“When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: if you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand the data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse.”
― Martin Keogh, Hope Beneath Our Feet: Restoring Our Place in the Natural World (source: Goodreads)