Speaking at the Wellesley College, late author Toni Morrison left all platitudes behind. She spoke from the heart. Instead of talking about ways the gathered students could prepare for a future, she admitted her uncertainty regarding its existence. “I’m not going to talk anymore about the future because I’m hesitant to describe or predict because I’m not even certain that it exists. That is to say, I’m not certain that somehow, perhaps, a burgeoning ménage a trois of political interests, corporate interests and military interests will not prevail and literally annihilate an inhabitable, humane future. Because I don’t think we can any longer rely on separation of powers, free speech, religious tolerance or unchallengeable civil liberties as a matter of course. That is, not while finite humans in the flux of time make decisions of infinite damage. Not while finite humans make infinite claims of virtue and unassailable power that are beyond their competence, if not their reach. So, no happy talk about the future,” she said.
She asked them to forge their own path instead, to take the rein of their future in their own hands. “What is now known is not all what you are capable of knowing. You are your own stories, and therefore free to imagine and experience what it means to be human without wealth. What it feels like to be human without domination over others, without reckless arrogance, without fear of others unlike you, without rotating, rehearsing and reinventing the hatreds you learned in the sandbox.”
She concluded with a piece of profound advice. “I see your life as already artful, waiting, just waiting and ready for you to make it art.”