We rarely have the occasion to witness History unfolding before our eyes. We may realize afterwards that something extraordinary happened. Or someone.
Last week, on January the 20th, the inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration took place. This day marked the end of four years of chaos and insanity. This only can be seen as an historic event, even if eventually nothing comes out this presidency. We reached a point that low that common decency is remarkable.
But something absolutely unexpected, and beautiful, happened. We witnessed the birth of a giant. It is remarkable, for me as an European, to discover that poetry is still cool in the US. And there is an inaugural poet picked to recite poetry for the occasion. So amazingly refreshing to see. I truly envy this smart elegance.
The great Amanda Gorman delivered “The hill we climb“, a poetry written for the occasion and adapted after the attended coup on the Capitole. The videos have been seen million of times. And I must have watched it more than 20 times myself, moved to tears each time. I didn’t knew her before that.
What a shock. What a talented person. This “skinny black girl”, as she described herself, whose head barely emerged from the podium, delivered flawlessly a text so powerful that it has eclipsed the speech of the President himself. She captured the state of her country and democracy, put it in an historical perspective and offered paths toward renewed enlightenments. All in a bit more than 5 minutes. I cannot help thinking of Maya Angelu listening to her. But Amanda Gorman is only 22, and has already raised herself among the giants of the American literature.
I thought of the pride felt by her mother. I thought of all the beauty she may bring to the world in her lifetime. I thought of the magnitude her work may reach once she will be an old lady, having witnessed thousands of lives, and mourned thousands of deaths. What a chance we have to get to know her. I fell lucky, blessed, and empowered.
On her website, she describes herself as a “wordsmith and change-maker”. We can admit this is pretty accurate. She became one of my heroes. I wrote a couple of weeks ago that “words and concepts and the material with which I am meant to work with.” The very least we can say is that Amanda Gorman is bringing beauty to this world.
She creating worlds with words. She is enabling desirables futures and is empowering people so they can make a contribution, either big or small, to the creation of those desirables futures. This is exactly the purpose of Common Future(s). In our talk [FR], Marie-Cécile Godwin and I explored this idea. We may not fix all the issues of a collapsing world ourself. But we may enable others to take their share and contribute.
How scared, exhausted and discouraged we may feel, in that ability to make small contributions and to empower others, we have also the power to enable desirable and sustainable futures. This eternal light is in all of us. We are worldsmiths and it’s about time we start enabling new futures.