cover image We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness

We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For: Light in a Time of Darkness

Alice Walker, . . New Press, $23.95 (257pp) ISBN 978-1-59558-137-2

Often rambling and occasionally pedantic, the essays in Walker's latest collection can also be stunningly insightful. Mixing prose with poetry, she discusses Martin Luther King, feminism and meditation, among other subjects, always circling back to themes of integrity and activism. The most substantial entries are based on live lectures. In a speech to the graduating class of the California Institute of Integral Studies, Walker urges that we not fear the pause that "wisdom requires" when "something major is accomplished," despite our eagerness to rush into "The Future." She manages to show how this "moment of reflection" is natural and necessary, whether the defining event is college graduation, menopause or the buildup to a military invasion. Her 2002 lecture, "I Call That Man Religious," argues that Fidel Castro is a "truly religious man" because he "speaks out for the rights of the poor," in contrast to the Catholic Church, which hid its priests' abuse of children for so long. More contradictory is "Crimes Against Dog," in which she describes a visit to buy a labrador retriever and her discomfort at the similarity between dog breeders and slaveholders, but doesn't consider getting a mutt. Despite the annoying inclusion of homework-like assignments at the end of most essays, this book will inspire hope. (Dec.)