I know people dedicated to lost causes and forgotten arts. People who spend hours in butcher shops, fish sellers, and fruit and vegetable markets on the way home from a long day at work. People who cut, slice, knead, peel and scrape when it’s much easier and cheaper to just buy something from the supermarket freezer, or order something at the drive-through. I know people who take pride in everything that they do, who understand the importance of every nail that is hammered, every word that is written, every pamphlet that is handed out, every vote that is cast, and every note that is sung.
I know people who write sonnets and elaborate handwritten correspondence in the middle of the night. There are some I know who paint pictures of shipwrecks and Sycamore trees, who grow antique roses and heritage apples. A woman I know keeps honeybees in her backyard. She spends hours almost every night translating Persian poetry and copying the words into beautiful fat notebooks with cream-coloured paper.
I know people who are not passionately devoted to money, and whose every waking thought does not revolve around how they appear to others. People who are curious about the stars and the history of medicine, who build mandolins and canoes, and repair car engines with loving attention.
I know people who are filled with delight by madrigals and roller coasters, and who swim at midnight on their eightieth birthday. I know people who still remember how to laugh, and to trust, and to accept whatever life has to offer them.
I know people who walk up to perfect strangers on the street and offer directions, who don’t turn their heads when someone’s in trouble, and who take the time to comfort a child. Some among them have seen the bloody tides of history wash up around their feet, have heard bomb-laden planes flying overhead, and looked through the fences of concentration camps. Yet, they still believe in the goodness of the human race, still volunteer at the hospital or the women’s shelter, and still rejoice at the birth of a new human life.
I know people who believe, against all expert advice, that the brutal and the greedy, the violent and the evil and the seemingly invincible, will one day fall to their knees, and the world will finally come to its senses. These are the people who will show us the way.