It’s late. I know.
Earlier this week I picked a conversation (linked here) for us to discuss. After the week turned sideways as it did, I wasn’t sure if Plan A was still my plan of choice.
This link is a conversation between President Obama and Marilynne Robinson. It is, I think, about hope in a time of fear. I will bring pieces of it to you.
Pieces like this one:
Robinson:…if you take something seriously, you’re ready to encounter difficulty, run the risk, whatever. I mean, when people are turning in on themselves—and God knows, arming themselves and so on—against the imagined other, they’re not taking their Christianity seriously. I don’t know—I mean, this has happened over and over again in the history of Christianity, there’s no question about that, or other religions, as we know.
But Christianity is profoundly counterintuitive—“Love thy neighbor as thyself”—which I think properly understood means your neighbor is as worthy of love as you are, not that you’re actually going to be capable of this sort of superhuman feat. But you’re supposed to run against the grain. It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to be a challenge.
and this one:
The President: The issue to me, Marilynne, is not so much that those virtues that you prize and that you care about and that are vital to our democracy aren’t there. They are there in Little League games, and—
Robinson: Emergency rooms.
The President:—emergency rooms, and in school buildings. And people are treating each other the way you would want our democracy to cultivate. But there’s this huge gap between how folks go about their daily lives and how we talk about our common life and our political life
and this one:
Robinson: I think one of the things that is true is that many Americans on every side of every issue, they think that the worst thing they can say is the truest thing, you know?
The President: No. Tell me what you mean.
and this one:
Robinson: Because [of] the idea of the “sinister other.” And I mean, that’s bad under all circumstances. But when it’s brought home, when it becomes part of our own political conversation about ourselves, I think that that really is about as dangerous a development as there could be in terms of whether we continue to be a democracy.
The President: Well, now there’s been that strain in our democracy and in American politics for a long time. And it pops up every so often. I think the argument right now would be that because people are feeling the stresses of globalization and rapid change, and we went through one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression, and the political system seems gridlocked, that people may be particularly receptive to that brand of politics.
Robinson: But having looked at one another with optimism and tried to facilitate education and all these other things—which we’ve done more than most countries have done, given all our faults—that’s what made it a viable democracy. And I think that we have created this incredibly inappropriate sort of in-group mentality when we really are from every end of the earth, just dealing with each other in good faith. And that’s just a terrible darkening of the national outlook, I think.
The President: We’ve talked about this, though. I’m always trying to push a little more optimism. Sometimes you get—I think you get discouraged by it, and I tell you, well, we go through these moments.
Here is a link to her longer essay on fear.
See you in the morning-