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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

January 23, 2004
Vol. 1, No. 187




Tom Fox In resistance there is hope

By Tom Fox, NCR publisher

Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.
-- Vaclav Havel

I will end this week on a note of hope, in the process offer you a small gift.

Hope Dies LastAllow me to share with you the latest opus of Studs Terkel, the author of 11 books of oral history, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Good War. His newest book is Hope Dies Last and includes interviews with congressmen, cooks, union organizers, CEOs, students, immigrants, activists, priests and lawyers.

The interviews bring to life personalities who embody the virtue of hope. Reading the book, one is vividly reminded that hope is more than an abstract notion. It is the fuel of life.

The interviews in Hope Dies Last form a legacy of unfailing spirit and dreams that come to life. Concludes Terkel: "Hope is born of activism, commitment and the steely determination to resist."

If you feel a bit discouraged, you might want to pick up this book. You will be reminded that you can make a difference with your life. You can choose to live your dream. It might require risk, but the potential rewards include a meaningful and fulfilling life.

In resistance there is hope.

The purpose of this Today's Take is not to present a full review of Terkel's latest contribution to American history. It is rather simply to introduce you to the book

No one among us is likely to change the world. At the same time all of us are called to "make a difference." Terkel's characters have chosen not to take the easy paths. Each has resisted complacency.

Other Today's Takes by Tom Fox
Jan. 22, 2004 Common ground: the earth beneath their feet
Jan. 21, 2004 Reflections close to my heart
Jan. 20, 2004 Remember the tales from last year
Jan. 19, 2004 The last years of Martin Luther King
Nov. 20, 2003 (un)Holy Matrimony
Nov. 19, 2003 Talking about celibacy
Nov. 18, 2003 Why bishops won't talk about celibacy
Oct. 10, 2003 Why Catholics are jittery
Sept. 25, 2003 A revolution deferred: sex and the church Part II
I am reminded of a story told of my paternal grandfather. He was an artist and in hard times painted houses to help support the family. It is said that when friends at the local pub asked him whom he had voted for, Grandpa Charlie simply responded: "I voted my protest."

He seemed to protest everything, and during the Depression that might have been all there was left to do.

I am also reminded of the teacher who at one particularly hot moment in the Cold War, when nuclear war seemed almost inevitable, asked her fourth grade students if they thought a nuclear exchange might occur. All but one raised their hands. The teacher then turned to the boy and asked him why he thought differently. The child replied: "Because my parents are against war. They protest, and sometimes I protest with them."

Resistance spawns hope.

Ah, bless all of you who resist. You are the hopeful ones. Let none of us allow the fire within us to be quenched. It is another name for hope.

Tom Fox is NCR publisher. He can be reached at

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