Hope is the thing with feathers

Sometimes you have to step back and just savor the moment.

2016 has already been a long and tough election season. It’s had more than its share of scary and awful, particularly on the Republican side. It’s easy to forget that the Democratic primary is pretty familiar. A moderate heavy favorite faces an unexpectedly tough challenge from an exciting, more ideologically pure challenger. My superpac happens to support Hillary Clinton. She is a smart and substantive steward on behalf of liberal social policies. She is less of a general election risk. She reminds me of the warm and smart women I work with in social services and public health who are the workhorses who get things done.

Whatever side you are on, it’s easy to let the relentless grinding process get you down. It’s sometimes important to step back and just enjoy a nice human moment. From across the primary divide, I get a smile on my face watching the sheer joyousness of some Sanders rallies.

The other day, a little bird landed at Sanders’ podium. It was a sweet moment.

My friend Rich Yeselson reminds me that Emily Dickinson has something to say about all this:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Author: Harold Pollack

Harold Pollack is Helen Ross Professor of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. He has served on three expert committees of the National Academies of Science. His recent research appears in such journals as Addiction, Journal of the American Medical Association, and American Journal of Public Health. He writes regularly on HIV prevention, crime and drug policy, health reform, and disability policy for American Prospect, tnr.com, and other news outlets. His essay, "Lessons from an Emergency Room Nightmare" was selected for the collection The Best American Medical Writing, 2009. He recently participated, with zero critical acclaim, in the University of Chicago's annual Latke-Hamentaschen debate.