Voices From the Wreckage

It's possible to rise from the ashes

Lessing holds out history, science, art, philosophy, and literature as the keys to the prison of conformity. And we would do well to heed her advice. Because it is there—in the collective experience of those who have gone before us and have walked beside us—that we will find the tools we need to go on.

We will need strength to dig ourselves and our friends out from the wreckage of this election. We will need perspective and knowledge to help us craft our strategies. We will need courage to stand against the groupthink that bombards us from every newsstand and television and laptop.

Perhaps most of all, we will need hope.

Illustration by Jorge Colombo

Listen to the words of the Czech human rights hero Václav Havel, a man who endured nearly 40 years of persecution for his belief in basic liberties and freedom of expression: "Hope is a state of mind, not of the world," Havel wrote. "Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good."

Havel, of course, went on to become the elected president of Czechoslovakia. But here's the point: Even if he had died before his nation had won its freedom, he would have died knowing he was free inside.

If we don't stand together now in the ruins of the American dream and fight, will we be able to say the same?

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