"On my desk sits a small black-and-white portrait of the world in a new year, when the year was 1903, that graced the cover of Emma Goldman's magazine Mother Earth, and words of hers that have crossed a century to reach me: 'Out of the chaos the future emerges in harmony and beauty.' Promises and prayers contain their own kinds of answers, as consecrated aspiration. I need this one now, as I need air and light.

"I don't know what lies around the bend for us. I'm as scared as anybody, and grieving already: the end of nature and biodiversity, of safety and the privilege of travel; we have such larger losses to ache for than the end of the SUV as we know it. . . . .

"The writing has been on the wall for some years now, but we are a nation illiterate in the language of the wall. The writing just gets bigger. Something will eventually bring down the charming, infuriating naivete of Americans that allows us our blithe consumption and cheerful ignorance of the secret uglinesses that bring us whatever we want. I am not saying I'm in favor of the fall; it terrifies me. I'm saying when the nine-hundred-pound bear gets all the way out to the very tip end of the limb, something's going to crash. Nostalgia for an earlier ignorance is not the domain of this discussion. Sitting here eating as fast as we can, while glancing around for the instruments of our demise, isn't it either. Would that the instrument might be a reconstruction guided by our own foresight and discipline, rather than someone else's hatred. . . . .

"What I can find is this, and so it has to be: conquering my own despair by doing what little I can. Stealing thunder, tucking it in my pocket to save for the long drought. Dreaming in the color green, tasting the end of anger. Don't ask me for the evidence. The possibility of a kinder future, the existence of God — these are just two of many things that fall into the category I would label 'impossible to prove, and proof is not the point.' Faith has a life of its own."

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