“Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time.”
I’ve been spending a lot of time with James Baldwin this fall—and not for nothing. His words are timeless, sadly, in the broken American construct that rattles and clangs and kills even today. And yet, as frantic as the passing years seem to be, I always find a source of comfort in good writing. Baldwin distills the essence of American energy.
This is a 1963 essay delivered for teachers (you and me and everyone) to draw attention to the long, slow crisis in this country. It’s written for our moment, too. And to anyone who thinks history will leave you alone if you simply tune out the hatred and violence in America, well, the truth will have its way with all of us.
“The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it – at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change.”
It’s easy to let mass media/social media swarm your mind, but I think this work happens on a granular, individual level. In the classroom, in the local paper, in a book club. When we change ourselves, we change the world.