“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, not falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous,beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Prometheus Unbound
The poet’s words capture the spirit of 19th-Century Romanticism. We live in the 21st Century where men and women still defy seeming omnipotent Power when we rebuild a defiant tower on Manhattan Island. The tower is a beautiful thing. We are humbled only by the proviso that the tower has been built to withstand all known catastrophes to date and then some, but we have no illusions about the unseen realities like an iceberg that sank the unsinkable ship. We have no illusions about new catastrophes that will always defy our poor power to prevent them. We spend trillions on our audacious hopes. It’s what human beings admire and do. We are awestruck at our own audacity. We rebuild and go on living in Pompey. Hiroshima and Dresden. We survive the Plague and wars and world wars.
1776 feet below the new tower New Yorkers pursue as always, their hopes and dreams. The drive goes back hundreds of years and earlier to ancient Rome and even earlier. Indeed, as does all mankind whether in Paris or Sandy Hook. We have always if not forgiven audacious wrongs and conquered unintended consequences, we have faced events darker than death or night.
We mortals cannot create a utopia on earth.The the best jobs and education can only make a dent in changing miserable lives. All we can do is provide a bigger token’s worth of social investment. What if it were a mere tithe on the investments we make in our audacity and hubris. Once upon a time the Twin Towers were both a hope and a wreck. In the end and given human folly, can we give more attention to perfecting what we contemplate and make sure that audacity pays tribute to Goodness each time we create a symbol of our unquenchable, audacious human hunger. David Milliken.