On having some sense and reading
"We have to reject the notion that we are suddenly gripped by forces that we cannot control. [We've] got to embrace the longer and more optimistic view of history and the role that we play in it. And if you are skeptical of such optimism, I will say something that may sound controversial. ... By just about every measure, America is better and the world is better than it was 50 years ago, 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago. And I know that statement doesn't jibe with the steady stream of bad news and cynicism that we're fed through television and Twitter. But it's true. Think about it: I was born at a time, for example, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of American life. ... Even if we still have miles to travel and innumerable laws and hearts and minds to change, the shift in what this country is and what it means is astonishing, remarkable and it's happened, when you measure it against the scope of human history in an instant."