“The language of failure and disappointment, disenchantment, disillusionment, is a little bit Romantic for me…. Why not have a sense of gratitude that you’re able to do as much as you did? That you’re able to love as much and think as much and play as much? Why think you need the whole thing? Where’s the expectation that you need the whole thing coming from?…
America’s a very fragile, democratic experiment predicated on the disposition of the lands of indigenous people and the enslavement of African people and the subjugation of workers and women and the marginalization of gays and lesbians. It has great potential, but this notion that somehow we had it all or ever will have it all, that’s got to go, you’ve got to push it to the side.
And once you push all that to the side, then it tends to evacuate the language of disappointment and the language of failure. And you say, OK, how much have we done? How have we been able to do it? Can we do more? In some situations you can’t do more. It’s like trying to break-dance at seventy-five, you can’t do it anymore! You were a master at sixteen; it’s over! You can’t make love at eighty the way you did at twenty, so what? Time is real!”
- Cornel West