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The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fearby Paul Rogat Loeb
Synopses & Reviews
People need hope more than ever in difficult political times — like this one. This book brings together the voices of eloquent writers and activists to talk about how we replenish the wells of commitment. It explores what keeps us going as we work for a more humane world, no matter how hard it sometimes seems. The Impossible explores the historical, political, ecological, and spiritual frameworks that help us to persist — with concrete examples of how people have faced despair and overcome it. Some directly address our current political time. Others examine how people persisted in the struggles of the past: what it was like to confront South African apartheid, the Eastern European dictatorships, or Mississippi's entrenched segregation.
Political hope and personal hope are intertwined, of course. What lets us work for change is related to what keeps us going day after day through hard times. So pieces are included that straddle both. But the book is focused on the kind of hope that takes us beyond merely personally surviving and carving out the best private life we can. This collection will help readers find common solutions and see the world clear-eyed — acknowledging the destructive power of greed, fear, and shortsighted expedience, resisting the temptations of complacency and sentimentality, yet acting nonetheless, to make change with courage and heart. It will help us to explore the traps of despair and then teach us, in the words of Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, how to believe in spite of the evidence, then watch the evidence change. Loeb has pulled together stories and perspectives that teach us to persist, with courage and conscience, despite all the obstacles.
The Impossible Will Take a Little While includes essays, stories, and poems from a range of powerful writers, including Diane Ackerman, Mary Catherine Bateson, Ariel Dorfman, Marian Wright Edelman, Eduardo Galeano, Susan Griffin, Václav Havel, Mark Hertsgaard, Barbara Kingsolver, Jonathan Kozol, Tony Kushner, Nelson Mandela, Bill McKibben, Henri Nouwen, Arundhati Roy, Terry Tempest Williams, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Cornel West, and Howard Zinn, plus an array of excellent lesser-known voices.
"In this uneven collection, Loeb, author of Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time, gathers together over sixty poems, memoirs and essays tailored to buck up the spirits of a left-liberal audience depressed by the sorry state of the world. Although generally in favor of justice and democracy and against the 'runaway global market,' the selection of writers includes a wide range of environmentalists, civil rights crusaders, anti-poverty activists and dissidents against both fascism and communism. From these eclectic offerings some hopeful, albeit familiar themes assert themselves: ordinary people can make a difference, every little bit counts, in solidarity there is strength, a positive attitude is half the battle, the powers that be are unexpectedly vulnerable, and history is full of surprising victories of the weak over the strong. Not surprisingly, many of the pieces amount to motivational lectures, while others inflate the notion of hope into tiresome dilations on, for example, the links between information processing, daydreams and butterflies. But the articles that deal with concrete struggles and achievements-Nelson Mandela's memoir of imprisonment on Robben Island, Vaclav Havel's account of the ant-like construction of civil society and a dissident political culture in Communist Czechoslovakia, Bill McKibben's homage to the urban planning triumphs of Curitiba, Brazil-deliver real inspiration." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Stories of heroes who make me believe that any goal is possible. As I read them, I'm reminded yet again of the incredible power individuals have when we come together. Loeb's book is an inspirational gift." Joan Blades, cofounder, MoveOn.org
"Reading this hymnbook of hope, one's heart cannot help but sing. I am moved and inspired by this magnificent book's rich stories and insights. They water the fragile, precious seed of hope, from which everything we love grows." Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life
"Paul Loeb brings hope for a better world in a time when we so urgently need it." Millard Fuller, founder, Habitat for Humanity
"Paul Loeb's new book is just what the doctor ordered for these depressing times: a massive infusion of hope, written in the clearest and most inspiring prose. Do your soul a favor and read this book." Kevin Danaher, Cofounder, Global Exchange
"Everyone who believes in our humanity and the ideal of justice for all, but feels despair by the direction the world has taken since 9/11, will find their faith in our ability to serve the common good restored by Paul Loeb's symphony of powerful voices." Charles Johnson, National Book Award winner, author of Middle Passage
"An intelligent, impressive compendium of ideas and feelings that, if implemented, will lead to a far more civilized society." Peter Matthiessen, author of The Snow Leopard
"After reading the indomitable Mandela and Havel, John Lewis and Sherman Alexie, I was filled with new vigor. This collection is a forceful testimonial to the unique power of hope. Success is literally impossible unless you have hope. And for readers who know their Darwin, it offers a quiet reminder that pessimism has no survival value." Denis Hayes, Chairman Earth Day Network
"Extremely important." John Kenneth Galbraith
"A feast of inspiration to help people keep working for justice." Ben Cohen, founder of True Majority.org and of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream
In a difficult time, our most eloquent writers offer words of inspiration and hope
What keeps us going when times get tough? How have the leaders and unsung heroes of world-changing political movements persevered in the face of cynicism, fear, and seemingly overwhelming odds? In The Impossible Will Take a Little While, they answer these questions in their own words, creating a conversation among some of the most visionary and eloquent voices of our times. Ten years after his original edition, Paul Rogat Loeb has comprehensively updated this classic work on what its like to go up against Goliath--whether South African apartheid, Mississippi segregation, Middle East dictatorships, or the corporations driving global climate change. Without sugarcoating the obstacles, these stories inspire the hope to keep moving forward.
Think of this book as a conversation among some of the most visionary and eloquent voices of our times--or any time: Contributors include Maya Angelou, Diane Ackerman, Marian Wright Edelman, Wael Ghonim, Václav Havel, Paul Hawken, Seamus Heaney, Jonathan Kozol, Tony Kushner, Audre Lorde, Nelson Mandela, Bill McKibben, Bill Moyers, Pablo Neruda, Mary Pipher, Arundhati Roy, Dan Savage, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Cornel West, Terry Tempest Williams, and Howard Zinn
In The Impossible Will Take a Little While, a phrase borrowed from Billie Holliday, the editor of Soul of a Citizen brings together fifty stories and essays that range across nations, eras, wars, and political movements. Danusha Goska, an Indiana activist with a paralyzing physical disability, writes about overcoming political immobilization, drawing on her history with the Peace Corps and Mother Teresa. Vaclav Havel, the former president of the Czech Republic, finds value in seemingly doomed or futile actions taken by oppressed peoples. Rosemarie Freeney Harding recalls the music that sustained the civil rights movement, and Paxus Calta-Star recounts the powerful vignette of an 18-year-old who launched the overthrow of Bulgaria's dictatorship. Many of the essays are new, others classic works that continue to inspire. Together, these writers explore a path of heartfelt community involvement that leads beyond despair to compassion and hope. The voices collected in The Impossible Will Take a Little While will help keep us all working for a better world despite the obstacles.
About the Author
Paul Rogat Loeb is the author of Soul of a Citizen and three other books. He has written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and other publications. He is an associated scholar at Seattle's Center for Ethical Leadership and lives in Seattle, Washington.
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