“It’s easy to harpoon, / More difficult to hope” – Amanda Gorman, of “& So”
I find myself drawn into poetry. Mostly verses about hope. “Hope is the thing with the feathers,” said Emily Dickinson.
Amanda Gorman’s recent book includes “Another Nautical”, with these lines:
Hope is the sweet bird
We send across the sea
To see if this land is still home.
We ask you honestly:
Or, from Isaiah, his lyrical tongue, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” They will fly on wings like eagles …
The birds as representing hope. Glider, frail or eagle – strong.
Poetry is meant to be read aloud and I do. Like a song. Like a prayer.
I do this (and listen to classical music and sweet songs) to face a dark anniversary: January 6: a tragic day of shattered windows, smeared feces, armed protesters. Serious injuries and death. Elected officials in danger.
I cannot control the media and the politicians who keep confusing or lying about events. I cannot force others to read the Constitution; go beyond the second amendment. If I could, I would educate others on history – from the civil war to the civil rights movement. I wish I could snatch people who so often seem rudderless, some clinging to conspiracy theories, extremist rhetoric, in order to get them to promote justice, fairness, the common good.
I can’t, however. As I get older, I realize my own helplessness.
So, I do what I can to avoid despair:
- I continue to use my voice in this space.
- I connect with people I can disagree with, knowing that unless they’re extremists who see me as less or violent, they’re not my enemy.
- I try not to bite the hook. Some experts like to “own the libraries” or not belong to Trump. The Marjorie Taylor Greenes love to provoke and that’s what their base loves. Focusing on the incident only empowers the foolish and the dangerous.
- I challenge Democrats who fail to get the good stuff out there – how under President Biden’s leadership there hasn’t been a supply chain disaster, for example. As one reporter put it, “Biden saved Christmas! I challenge Democrats who fail to address local issues, like homeless camps, crime and drugs. Solutions such as drug courts and mental health facilities are available.
- I try to balance the disheartening news with hope. As Katharine Hayhoe, a climatologist says, “For a lot of people now, hope is a bad word… They think that
hope is false hope; it is wishful thinking. But there are things to be done – and we should be doing them. “
- I pray, with the Bible open. This is tricky because too many Democrats laugh at the faith and too many Republicans think they have a monopoly on it or think that God is one god. As presenter Joe Scarborough, a traditional Republican, puts it, for too many people, life begins at conception and ends at birth. Peace, justice and love are recurring themes throughout the Bible. I look at Jesus and try to do well, despite the failures.
- As mentioned, I read poetry and listen to peaceful music. I practice.
What I can control, I am responsible. But I can’t do it alone.
Interested in a wide range of issues, including social and religious issues, Brickner regularly contributes to the Forum’s opinion page. She is a retired English teacher, having taught in Michigan and Minnesota.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Forum editorial board or the ownership of the Forum.