Hope Index, Vol. 2: After Our Planet
Today marks a week from our launch and the response to our little mag has been so encouraging. We've had wonderful, talented friends contribute work we felt proud to publish, received generous emails from other writers we admire, and met a half dozen new voices that we can't wait to share with you. I already feel so grateful and blessed for this adventure with one of my best friends, and we're only a few days in!
But it's also been a week filled with hopeless headlines. Tragedy, anger, bloodshed. The positive response to this tiny piece of the Internet has given me joy, but the reality of our cities, country and this world at large is one of unbelievable sorrow. While we seek to stir hope here, always, it is callous to ignore the truth of our broken nation.
The links below relate to race relations, mental illness, and police brutality. There's also some poetry for good measure. Though they aren't "hopeful" in the traditional sense, we believe they speak with honesty, understanding, and the specific, savage beauty that can only be borne out of a deep hurt. Language, in itself, can lead us toward the light. And while we can't solve these problems from our desks, we can begin the work of being better people. Which honestly, is the only hope we have.
- "The importance of speaking the truth, even when the truth is unspeakable, informed Wiesel’s writing and his life." This short piece calls for a biography of Elie Wiesel, who, it could be argued, was the father of writing of witness. When living in fraught times, we should seek to honor his memory: both by bearing testimony to what we have seen, and by refusing to let it define us.
- "Letter from a Region in My Mind" -- A timeless long read by James Baldwin that I find myself revisiting again and again. Baldwin's stripped-bare, confessional and poetic recollections of growing up in Harlem are impossible to describe fully. Unfortunately, many of the issues Baldwin explores here haven't evolved that much, and parts read like they could have been written yesterday. Read this. It will change you.
- NPR's Invisibilia: "The Problem with the Solution" -- This episode explores mental health treatment, both in the United States and in Europe. Bringing listeners to Belgium, Broadway, and at it's wrenching conclusion, the host's own experience, this in-depth deep-dive into what mental illness is versus how it could be viewed will blow your mind in the best way.
- "Alton Sterling and When Black Lives Stop Mattering": Roxane Gay takes to the NY Times to describe the broken, helpless feeling that all but defines this week. But she reminds us -- all of us, that "we have to bear witness and resist numbness" even as the world spins out of our grasp and away from what we wish to understand.
- I'm just going to close with a few stanzas from this poem by Mark Strand, published in the Paris Review. I strongly suggest reading the whole thing.
“I would like to step out of my heart’s door and be
Under the great sky.” I would like to step out
And be on the other side, and be part of all
That surrounds me. I would like to be
In that solitude of soundless things, in the random
Company of the wind, to be weightless, nameless.
But not for long, for I would be downcast without
The things I keep inside my heart; and in no time
I would be back. Ah! the old heart
In which I sleep, in which my sleep increases, in which
My grief is ponderous, in which the leaves are falling,
In which the streets are long, in which the night
Is dark, in which the sky is great, the old heart
That murmurs to me of what cannot go on,
Of the dancing, of the inmost dancing."
To a better weekend, friends. To a better world to come.