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  • I recently finished reading All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews. Like her other novels, it too was beautifully written and a brilliant read. After I finished the book, I said the same thing I always do, “Damn, I wish I had her talent for storytelling and way with words.” Miriam deserves every accolade ever bestowed upon her. And more.

    I loved everything about this book, even the puzzling double ending. But it was a particular passage on page 267 that really resonated with me. Quite simply, it blew my mind.

    Here it is:

    “What had she said about libraries and civilization? Because you make a promise, she’d said. You promise to return the book. You promise to come back. What other institution operates in such good faith, Yo?”

    I’d like to see more promises of “good faith” like this.

    Good faith that we’ll do the right thing because it is right, and for no other reason. No matter how difficult. No matter how much we rail or protest or rage against the credo or moral code. No matter how uncomfortable it makes us. We can even criticize, complain and condemn. But after all that, in the end, when the rubber hits the road, we’ll listen to the small quiet voice of our higher self. The voice of reason, truth and common decency. Do the right thing. Keep our promise. We will return the book.

    Good faith that when I fall back you will always be there to catch me. And I will do the same for you. We will keep our promise to each other. We will return the book.

    Good faith in the ultimate goodness of humanity, that we’re more good than bad. That somewhere deep inside each and every one of us this knowing and wisdom exists. Good faith that evil is an abomination and an anomaly. Not the norm. We will keep our promise to preserve and cherish our humanness. We will return the book.

    Good faith that we are, at our fundamental core, good well-meaning folks, living in good communities with good leaders, sending our kids to good schools with good teachers, worshipping freely in harbors of safety, regardless of our beliefs and definition of God. We will keep our promise to be kind and magnanimous and neighborly. We will return the book.

    Good faith that when I reach out my hand and heart to yours, that you will reciprocate. And together we will return the book.
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