It took John Kerry nearly 600 pages to write his memoir, Every Day Is Extra, published in 2018. I picked it up because I was intensely interested in knowing his thoughts and attitude about the current administration. It took me quite a while to get from the dedication page—to his wife, children and grandchildren—and to the future, to the moving conclusion.
Those “to the future” words should have been a clue. Despite a lifetime of struggles, debating, cajoling, reasoning--standing up for strongly-held beliefs during difficult times, through devastating losses and exhilarating victories, John Kerry has never lost faith.
When he arrives at the present, after describing stints in the military, as a senator, as a candidate for president, and as secretary of state, he doesn’t bad mouth anyone. He still believes in America’s capacity for greatness. His words remind us that, “Good people believed the world—at home and abroad—could be different and better. Citizens organized. People fought for something. We marched. We voted. We got knocked down and we got back up.”
He has observed hard-to imagine change and people who have bent history. He says the fight at home has always been a struggle and that is what makes him optimistic about today. He insists that America is good at confronting daunting challenges.
“I’m an optimist because America has a pretty good 242-year record of turning difficult passages into landmark progress. I’m an optimist because of the people I’ve met and what life has taught me,” he says.
In the moving paragraph below, he explains:
That’s why I wrote the book: to share with you that the abiding truth I’ve learned in my journey is you can change your country and you can change the world. You may fail at first, but you can’t give in. You have to get up and fight the fight again, but you can get there. The big steps and the small steps all add up. History is cumulative. We all can contribute to change if we’re willing to enter the contest for the future, often against the odds.
Thank you to John Kerry, who at age 75, continues to fight the good fight.