"Here are the nine principles that have guided me as I have tried to learn how to live well while doing good.
1. "Resist moralism
Imagine writing a woman whose husband has been murdered by a policeman and saying, 'You should have hope.' Or telling a woman who has to work and raise four children on her own, 'Let me offer some inspirational scriptures to make you feel bad about your despair.' I don't think so.
2. "Don't keep your bulletproof vest on too long
One way we manage despair is to defend ourselves against it. It takes courage to believe things can be better. Amelia Earhart said, 'Courage is the price life exacts for peace.' There will be no peace until there is justice.
3. "Use tricks
I know many of us say, 'I'll never find someone to love or who will love me,' but for just today act as if you're wrong. Be charming and available at least until after dinner.
4. "Consider the alternatives
In the last episode of the television series 'Mash,' Corporal Klinger realizes that he has two choices: to stop loving and stay safe, or to keep loving and be in constant danger. If he shuts his heart down it may feel good for a while, but then he has to live into a long life without love. Consider what doors bang close if you don't eat your despair.
5. "Stay at the table
Don't leave in disgust. Hang on to your seat. Let the others leave the church, the nation, and the job. Be people who last. Be obnoxious and persist.
6. "Be real
Build communities of people who are willing to look at their own despair. Speak often and openly about your shadow.
7. "Don't do everything
Do something. Write one letter to your congressman if you can't organize a whole demonstration. Make it a good letter.
8. "Be generous
Care about somebody you don't have to care about. Even if it is just one person.
9. "Rename yourself
When I have had it with everybody and everything and I want to scream at the whole world, 'What do you want me to do with this?' I take a suggestion from Emily Dickinson and rename myself 'feathers.' 'Hope is a thing with feathers.' Hope is the broken body of a good man at table with his friends, in the night when he was betrayed. Samuel Langhorne Clemens renamed himself Mark Twain from his riverboat experience. The phrase 'mark twain' means two fathoms deep, which for a riverboat captain is just deep enough water to navigate. Go deep enough to navigate, then stay at table and eat what is there. Salut.”