What i think it really means is: i'm a teacher. I am a teacher. I teach all the time, as you do and as all of you do-whether we know it or not, whether we take responsibility for it or not. I hold nothing back because i want to see that light go off. I like to see the children say, 'i never thought of that before.' and i think, 'i've got them!'
When i love somebody, i like him to be around; i like him to take me out to dinner; i like to look at the sunset with him. But if not, i love him and i hope he's looking at the same sun i am. Loving someone liberates the lover as well as the beloved. And that kind of love comes with age. Some of this wisdom came to me after i was 50 or 60.
I would ask every man and every woman who's had the blessing of having children, 'would you deny your son or your daughter the ecstasy of finding someone to love?' to love someone takes a lot of courage. So how much more is one challenged when the love is of the same sex and the laws say, 'i forbid you from loving this person'?
I can see in the acorn the oak tree. I see the growth, the rebuilding, the restoring. I see that is the american psyche. There is so much we can draw understanding from. One of the lessons is the development of courage. Because without courage, you can't practice any of the other virtues consistently.
Out of the huts of history's shame i rise up from a past that's rooted in pain i rise i'm a black ocean, leaping and wide, welling and swelling i bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear i rise into a daybreak that's wondrously clear i rise bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, i am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise i rise i rise.
I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn't just hold - that's ego. Love liberates. It doesn't bind. Love says, 'i love you. I love you if you're in china. I love you if you're across town. I love you if you're in harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I'd like to have your arms around me. I'd like to hear your voice in my ear. But that's not possible now, so i love you. Go.'
Of course, there are those critics - new york critics as a rule - who say, 'well, maya angelou has a new book out and of course it's good but then she's a natural writer.' those are the ones i want to grab by the throat and wrestle to the floor because it takes me forever to get it to sing. I work at the language.
Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Dont do that. Some day well be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you.
I think that each of us is so much alike, and yet at the same time we are so different, and i have a feeling that if you encountered difficulty, and i with my age encountered the same difficulty, i would respond one way, and you would respond another. Neither would be right or wrong. It's just that each of us is courageous, and that's what i encourage, courage, and the courage to see, and the courage to say to oneself what one has seen. Don't be in denial.
Naturally, if you love somebody, you do want to see their face every now and again, but that's not a condition of your love. People often get possession mixed up with love, and they say, "if you really loved me, you would call me." how - when life is going on? I think of you all the time, and the thought of you always lifts my spirits. But i'm not right at the phone!
I am convinced that courage is the most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind for a while; you can be generous for a while; you can be just for a while, or merciful for a while, even loving for a while. But it is only with courage that you can be persistently and insistently kind and generous and fair.