The vision and hope expressed by Toni Morrison and Caroline Kennedy in their endorsements of Obama were exciting and moving. These women’s words also made me look at myself. My work life – my whole life – has been about encouraging and trusting imagination and possibility. Poetry’s been the vehicle, inclusion the goal: little children, people in prison, teen-agers in continuation high schools.
But Kennedy’s words about believing in ourselves as a nation forced me to recognize the ways I’ve fallen into despair. “Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities,” Morrison wrote in her letter to Obama. “Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.” I read these words and see the ways I’ve become sure that those of us with privilege and power will always “refuse to abandon (our) nostalgia for the womb.”
Being real is a good thing. Skepticism can be a useful tool of critical thinking. But cynicism is a killer. The enlargement of hope and possibility so many currently feel in response to Obama is a gift I’m very grateful for.