It’s hard to believe after a lifetime of inspiring others, Maya Angelou will now always be discussed in the past tense. When I discovered she died today at the age of 86, my heart sank. She is (was) a shining diamond – roughly hewn from hardship and the tough early beginnings into a multi-faceted, timeless gem, an inspiration to millions. She possessed an indefatigable shining light that streamed out of her eyes and out of her rich husky voice.
Perfect in her humanness and imperfection, she was a survivor, a status quo challenger and global agenda-setter, a wordsmith, erudite academic and a freedom fighter. A feminist with a marshmallow centre full of love and joy.
Maya transcended all barriers put in her path about race, age and gender. People of all backgrounds came upon her writing as though she was a familiar long estranged friend. As individuals we were given the honour of sitting at her kitchen table with a cup of tea for a long long chat.
”My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept their love in return” Maya Angelou
”I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.” Maya Angelou
”Nothing can dim the light, which shines from within.” Maya Angelou
”It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou
”A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim” Maya Angelou
”Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” Maya Angelou
”Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” Maya Angelou
”Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” Maya Angelou
”During bad circumstances, which is the human inheritance, you must decide not to be reduced. You have your humanity, and you must not allow anything to reduce that. We are obliged to know we are global citizens. Disasters remind us we are world citizens, whether we like it or not.” Maya Angelou
In 1995 she addressed the United Nations on its 50th anniversary. She recited this poem, which speaks to the very essence of the United Nations. Click on the first photo on the top left to go through the sequence…
We, this people, on a small and lonely planet. Traveling through casual space. Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns. To a destination where all signs tell us It is possible and imperative that we learn. A brave and startling truth.
And when we come to it. To the day of peacemaking. When we release our fingers. From fists of hostility. And allow the pure air to cool our palms.
When we come to it. When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate. And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean. When battlefields and coliseum. No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters. Up with the bruised and bloody grass. To lie in identical plots in foreign soil.
When the rapacious storming of the churches. The screaming racket in the temples have ceased. When the pennants are waving gaily. When the banners of the world tremble. Stoutly in the good, clean breeze.
When we come to it. When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders. And children dress their dolls in flags of truce. When land mines of death have been removed. And the aged can walk into evenings of peace. When religious ritual is not perfumed. By the incense of burning flesh. And childhood dreams are not kicked awake. By nightmares of abuse.
When we come to it. Then we will confess that not the Pyramids. With their stones set in mysterious perfection. Nor the Gardens of Babylon. Hanging as eternal beauty. In our collective memory. Not the Grand Canyon. Kindled into delicious color. By Western sunsets.
Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe. Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji. Stretching to the Rising Sun. Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi. Who without favor, Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores. These are not the only wonders of the world .
When we come to it. We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe. Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger. Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace. We, this people on this mote of matter. In whose mouths abide cankerous words. Which challenge our very existence. Yet out of those same mouths. Come songs of such exquisite sweetness. That the heart falters in its labor. And the body is quieted into awe.
We, this people, on this small and drifting planet. Whose hands can strike with such abandon. That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living. Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness. That the haughty neck is happy to bow. And the proud back is glad to bend. Out of such chaos, of such contradiction. We learn that we are neither devils nor divines.
When we come to it. We, this people, on this wayward, floating body. Created on this earth, of this earth. Have the power to fashion for this earth. A climate where every man and every woman. Can live freely without sanctimonious piety. Without crippling fear.
When we come to it. We must confess that we are the possible. We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world. That is when, and only when. We come to it.
Digital dawdler, foodie, bookworm, culture vulture, rainbow lorikeet perennially in love with the arts, history and science. Constantly seeking inspiring people, knowledge and places.
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