Monday, April 22, 2013

Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country



"Success is somebody else’s failure. Success is the American Dream we can keep dreaming because most people in most places, including thirty million of ourselves, live wide awake in the terrible reality of poverty. No, I do not wish you success. I don’t even want to talk about it. I want to talk about failure.


Because you are human beings, you are going to meet failure. You are going to meet disappointment, injustice, betrayal, and irreparable loss.  You will find you are weak where you thought yourself strong. You’ll work for possessions and then find they possess you. You will find yourself—as I know you already have—In dark places, alone, and afraid.



What I hope for you, for all my sisters and daughters, brothers and sons, is that you will be able to live there, in the dark place. To live in the place that our rationalizing culture of success denies, calling it a place of exile, uninhabitable, foreign. 



So what I hope for you is that you life there not as prisoners, ashamed of being women, consenting captives of a psychopathic social systems, but as natives. That you will be at home there, keep houses there, be your own mistress, with a room of your own. That you will do your work there, whatever you’re good at, art or science or tech or running a company or sweeping under the beds, and when they tell you that it’s second-class work because a woman is doing it, I hope you tell them to go to hell and while they’re going to give you equal pay for equal time. I hope you live without the need to dominate, and without the need to be dominated. I hope you are never victims, but I hope you have no power over other people. And when you fail, and are defeated, and in pain, and in the dark, then I hope you will remember that darkness is your country, where you live, where no wars are fought and no wars are won, but where the future is. Our roots are in the dark; the earth is our country. Why did we look up for blessing—instead of around, and down? What hope we have lies there. Not in the sky full of orbiting spy-eyes and weaponry, but in the earth we have looked down upon. Not from above, but from below. Not in the light that blinds, but in the dark that nourishes, where human beings grow human souls." 


~ Ursula K. Le Guin, Excerpt from the essay, "A Left-Handed Commencement Address" from Dancing at the Edge of the World

Painting by Elisabeth Slettnes

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