I grew up in a neighborhood in Baltimore that was like a war zone, so I never learned to trust that there were people who could help me.
I'd like to see North America become a dry, sunny, sandy region inhabited mainly by lizards, buzzards and a modest human population - about 25 million would be plenty - of pastoralists and prospectors (prospecting for truth), gathering once a year in the ruins of ancient, mysterious cities for great ceremonies of music, art, dance, poetry, joy, faith and renewal. That's my dream of the American future. Like most such dreams, it will probably come true. That is why I'm still an optimist.
Nobody was perfect. Not even close. And everybody had wrinkles from smiling and squinting and craining their necks. Everybody has marks on their bodies from years of living- a trail of life left on them. Evidence of all the adventures and sleepless nights and practical jokes and heartbreaks that had made them who they are.
Think of something useless, and that's probably what I'll be doing. Listen, Virginia, we need to love the useless. We need to raise pigeons without a thought of eating them, plant rose bushes without expecting to pick roses, write without aiming at publication. We need to do things without expecting benefits in return. The shortest distance between two points may be a straight line, but it's in the curving paths that the best things are found. . . . We must love the useless, because there is beauty in uselessness.
We must truly listen to each other, respecting our essential brotherhood and the courage of those who try to speak, however they may differ from us in professional standing or religious belief or moral vision. We must speak and listen patiently, with good humor, with real expectation, and our dialogue can serve both truth and charity.
However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that, however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.