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  • Richard Farr

Optimism - and my new favorite news site

Doing some research on iconic speeches in times of crisis, I am struck by the common thread: all of them - Lincoln's Second Inaugural, Churchill's "whatever the cost may be" speech to the House of Commons in 1940, MLK's "I have a dream" - are suffused with unapologetic, unabashed optimism. "We know things will get better; our task is to join hands and make them better."

My favorite new news site, set up by the musician David "Talking Heads" Byrne, is in that spirit. Despite the rather touchy-feely title, Reasons to be Cheerful is a place for serious news - just news about things that are actually ... going right. The success of renewable energy in Germany. Things we are learning to do better because of the lockdown. Successes in the fight against gerrymandering. I recommend it.

Lincoln: With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Churchill: We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.... But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, “come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.”
King: I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal." I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.


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