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Hope in a Cynical Age

Creative Commons photo by ImageMD via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/imagemd/

Creative Commons photo by ImageMD via Flickr https://www.flickr.com/photos/imagemd/

In 1936, Carl Sandburg published his book-length poem called The People, Yes. As Tasha Golden notes in Ethos: A Digital Review of Arts, Humanities, and Public Ethics Vol. 1.1, this was a time when “Americans were vacillating between a belief that things would get better and a permeating cynicism created by ongoing instability, failed government interventions, and broken political promises.”

Golden writes that “Sandburg’s conflation of poetry and politics is precisely what demands a new look at his approach both to American “hope” and to social engagement.” The work of writers and artists in the 21st century “feeds a collective that surpasses us.”

Can Americans be expected now to trade the individual “American Dream” for Sandburg’s species-level hope?