The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear
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The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear

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4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  411 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In a difficult time, our most eloquent writers offer words of inspiration and hope
ebook, 432 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published August 2004)
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Martin
This was one of my textbooks in college that not only stretched my mind, but gave me something enjoyable to read over and over again for years to come. It's a collection of works by so many of the people who have inspired me with their words, actions, and thoughts. Anywhere that you can find Maya Angelou, Howard Zinn, Alice Walker, Desmond Tutu, Tony Kushner, Pablo Neruda, Nelson Mandela, and Jonathan Kozol among others all hanging out in a around 400 pages is a place I want to be. Hope you all...more
KC
It took a lot of time to finish this, so that I could have time to digest the essays before starting another. Powerful essays with life and world changing potential, truly prophetic.
Ethan Casey
I spent this summer building a patio, something I had never done before. I had to imagine it, then haul out a lot of dirt, then build a retaining wall and haul in crushed rock and sand. I couldn't have done it without my friend Pete, who has experience and tools that I lack. The surface is 2,000 reclaimed bricks: assorted antique pieces of Seattle history (some from the original harbor steps dating to the 1880s).

I could get run over by a bus tomorrow, or an earthquake like the one that just hit...more
Katie
A beautiful book! It will hold a prominent place on my shelf, so I will remember to pull it down and read a chapter or two for inspiration whenever I need it.

The book is a collection of 49 essays and poems, curated by Loeb into 9 subthemes. The pervading message (as you might guess from the subtext of the title) is the continued relevance of, and necessity for, hope. Sounds cheesy, no? Like a bunch of mush?

What makes it not so is that each of the contributing writers are people who have every re...more
Malbadeen
This book is full of lovely people like Jonathan Kozol, Desmund Tutu, Wendell Barry, Pablo Neradu, etc, etc, etc,
The problem is that it was presented to me in a class full of people that said things like,
"for me grace is the slow small strokes a swan takes to cross the pond"
and
"grace is the movements of a young couples dance of love"
no kidding that's for real! Those are actual quotes from classmates and if invoking that kind of drivel isn't reason enough to turn one off this book forever, t...more
Ben
I was in Australia a few years back. I had no money, no ticket home, no work permit and no hopes for under the table work. Needless to say I was feeling a little down. I opened up the paper one day enjoying my weekly treat of a 30cent ice cream cone from McDonalds and saw a cartoon strip. An ant was walking in the first panel minding his own business, in the second panel a large "PLOP" the third was a big pile of crap where the ant was walking, and in the fourth and final panel a thought bubble...more
Ann
A study in hope and the power of perseverance. The selections were sometimes too short, although in a few cases, the shortness of the essays made them more palatable and easier to get through. A few articles seemed to be composed entirely of quotes from other inspirational authors, making me wonder why those works being quoted weren't included instead. My favorite essay was an examination of what exactly Christ meant by "turning the other cheek," "going the extra mile," and giving both the cloak...more
Corey
This book, like most anthologies, is hit and miss. Maybe one out of every five of these pieces is something worth your time, but each of the ones that are definitely make up for it.

My favorite essays/poems:

- Jesus and Alinsky by Walter Wink
- Do Not Go Gentle by Sherman Alexie
- Imagine the Angels of Bread by Martin Espada
- Come September by Arundhati Roy
- Letter from Birmingham Jail by MLK
- From Hope to Hopelessness by Margaret Wheatley
- Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

"Hope is definitely not the...more
Fran Darling
I am still reading at this time, but recommended it to our ed program head of our city library and then loaned it to my sister.

Recommended by daughter, Jill, who is using this in her Creative Writing class at U of M Dearborn this fall. So glad to hear of it, I bought my own copy. The selections are above the norm for thoughtful, accessible well-written pieces. The selections also give insight and encouragement to paths of hope and progressive choices.

Contact Paul Rogat Loeb - for speaking at le...more
Beverly Atkinson
Parker Palmer referenced this book in his most recent work, "Healing the Heart of Democracy," and I am very glad I read it. Paul Rogat Loeb, editor, selected carefully from the very best authors engaged in the political process, and weaves a rich and vibrant tapestry that illuminates hope, optimism and dignity in times of uncertainty, paralysis, despair, and darkness. What most resonates with me are the stories that show that small acts performed by many individuals in community over time can ac...more
Krista
I really love to read anthologies...I think it's because I like variety. This is a very inspiring collection of essays - including Desmond Tutu, Pablo Neruda, Wendell Berry, Maya Angelou - that focus on the eternal hope we have as people to make our lives, our world a better place. The essay I'm reading right now is "The Optimism of Uncertainty" by Howard Zinn in which he writes, "Revolutionary change does not come as one cataclysmic moment (beware of such moments!) but as an endless succession...more
Aspen Junge
I don't know why it took me so long to read this book. I started out loving it; but got distracted by vacation and TV and knitting, and when I went back it didn't grab me as it had before. But very worthwhile. Positive social and political change takes time, sometimes generations, and these are essays by activists who know that the causes they have been devoting so much of their lives to may never come to fruition in their lifetimes, but because the cause is worthwhile they find a way to keep wo...more
Shanda Stefanson
This book is amazing. It found me at a time in my life when despair was quickly overpowering hope and I felt at a loss as to what to do about the many problems I see in the world. Reading this book gave me tools to find hope again and inspired me to take action rather than just lament things I have no control over. I recommend this to anyone who has ever wanted to change the world but has had moments of doubt and despair.
Jeremy
A collection of lukewarm essay's by some leftist luminaries. This is the sort of feel good stuff which increasingly has no positive effect on current forms of liberal thought. Supernova's that will destroy the earth and waving a Dildo as a sort of social catharsis/spiritual healing? It just all feels so contrived at times. If its feel good you want, eat lots of chocolate and listen to Vetiver's Things of the Past.
Mel
This is a book of essays written on various topics related to social justice, activism and a little bit of philosophical motivation behind that. I did not read the whole thing in its entirety, but really enjoyed the selection of essays I did read. I think it does succeed in responding to feelings of apathy people might have about aspiring to change the world for the better, when it seems like such an uphill battle.
Elizabeth
If ever I need courage and strength for the struggle for justice and peace, I know I can rely on this book. These true stories of peacemakers are inspirational, not only because of their content, but because many of them are from "ordinary" citizens. We can draw our strength directly from the communities in which we live and the acts of intentional kindness all around.
Chris
Excellent writing, including from Paul Rogat Loeb, the curator of the collection. (Full disclosure: Paul and his wife Rebecca are my friends.) Loeb’s passion about this subject is brilliant, although he does go on, never using one example when ten will do. The essays often had a solemnity that depressed me a tiny bit, but they were, indeed, inspiring.
Matt
I finally got around to reading a book they gave us in school.
This is a little weird to read since the book focuses mainly on advocates and my job is to work with individual people.
They were all well-written, but Sherman Alexie's piece about his son and the therapist working with the town near Chernobyl imprinted themselves on my brain.
Carol
This collection includes writings by Jonathan Kozol, Nelson Mandela, Marion Wright Edelman, Alice Walker, and many more. The theme is "hope" and while some of the details in the stories are heavy, it's definitely inspiring. Especially if you are bent toward public service or social justice, that sort of thing.
Anne-Marie P
Incredibly moving tales about a variety of people and the impact what they do, has on their community, their fellow citizens, and the world. The author reminds us that, even if what you do doesn't result in a large crowd or a sweeping policy change for instance, it makes a huge difference.
Becca Stroebel
Aug 07, 2007 Becca Stroebel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone in need of a little inspiration.
Shelves: non-fiction
One of my all-time favorites. This book contains an impressive array of essays dealing with hope by authors such as Marian Wright Edelman, Parker Palmer, Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Vaclav Havel, and Diane Ackerman. This book has influenced my reading and my thinking over the last year.
Karen
When this came out, I gave 5 of them out at Christmas...I have never done that before. It is an amazing collection of essays from many different sources. I continue to turn to it when I am overwhelmed with the sense of helplessness about the current state of the world and our role in it.
Jocelyn
Largely couched in dramatic post-9/11 language, but entirely inspiring nonetheless. This collection of essays works as a table book to flip through and be re-inspired by one of the contributors' thoughts on family, international affairs, the environment, solitude...read it.
Beth
i love this book, and i find myself constantly returning to it as a source of inspiration & hope. if you are a humanitarian and a liberal, you will love this book. if you are a republican, it is probably too bleeding-heart liberal-inspiration for you.
Joan
I've been working my way through the essays since I first bought this book back in 2004. It's a nice collection, but you definitely have to be in the right mood. I enjoy reading these essays laying in my hammock and contemplating the world.
Anna
An AWESOME book that give inspiration for change in a time where people feel useless to make a difference. It contains essasy by many respected activists including Martin Luther King JR, Nelson Mandella, Desmond Tutu, and others.
Connie
May 06, 2008 Connie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Connie by: CCAT
Shelves: read-in-08
This book inspires hope.. I haven't seen all the bits of it yet, Crystal has confiscated it. I truly enjoyed the Chocolate Thunder (Alexie) one the most so far.. Tony Kushner's is something of a hopeful yet feisty pin prick.
Katie
I am still reading this book but had to take a break to think. It's full of short essays that have actually been very inspirational to me. It is definitely geared towards the activist mindset, and so far I have LOVED it.
Jenny
Feb 29, 2008 Jenny rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny by: My Community Studies professor.
This is an excellent collection of inspirational essays from activists, political leaders, and poets. If you're having a hard time staying hopeful in this social climate, I'd highly recommend this read.
Bailey
Aug 01, 2007 Bailey is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a bit (or more) of an apathetic attitude
Multi-dimensional approach to activism of all kinds- I find that as I'm reading there are snippets of inspirational phrases or paragraphs that I'd want to plaster all over my walls, mirrors, door handles.
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Paul Rogat Loeb is an American social and political activist, who has strongly fought for issues including social justice, humanitarianism, environmentalism, and civic involvement in American democracy. Loeb is a frequent public speaker and has written five books and numerous newspaper editorials.
More about Paul Rogat Loeb...
Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time Soul of a Citizen: Living with Conviction in Challenging Times Generation at the Crossroads: Apathy and Action on the American Campus Hope in Hard Times Nuclear Culture: Living and Working in the World's Largest Atomic Complex

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“Those who make us believe that anything’s possible and fire our imagination over the long haul, are often the ones who have survived the bleakest of circumstances. The men and women who have every reason to despair, but don’t, may have the most to teach us, not only about how to hold true to our beliefs, but about how such a life can bring about seemingly impossible social change. ” 131 likes
“Hope isn't an abstract theory about where human aspirations end and the impossible begins; it's a never-ending experiment, continually expanding the boundaries of the possible.” 4 likes
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