When a writer puts “finis” at the end of his story, he’s telling you that this is as far as he can go. It’s over, for now at least. Finale has a somewhat grander implication, coming at the end of the performance. The lead singers and chorus join together on the stage for a final, joyous affirmation of what it’s all about. In William Greider’s new book Come Home, America chapters 13 and 14, The Reckoning and The Underground River, are both finis and finale.
It is finis as he sums up our problems and explains the rights we should claim:
First, every American who is able and willing ought to have the right to work a job that pays a livable wage….
The second idea is that everyone who works, whether in the front office on on the asembly line, deserves to ‘own’ their work….
The third idea is that, to lead the way for social values, the economy needs a new, reform-minded business organization….
These ideas combine with a recognition that we must reconsider both America’s role in the world and our own roles as citizens.
Here is the grand vision I suggest Americans can pursue: the right of all citizens to larger lives. Not to get richer than the next guy or necessarily accumulate more and more stuff, but the right to live life more fully and engage more expansively the elemental possibilities of human existence.
I interrupt this message to suggest that the place to begin in in your own affairs. When I was interviewing for the last job I had before retirement, I needed the money but I also wanted more life outside of work. Fortunately, my future boss really needed me. Do you want to work full time or part time, she asked. Do I have a choice? Yes, you can have it either way. I chose three days a week. Of course, when problems and projects arose I tried to accommodate them by temporarily working more, appreciative that they had given me a choice in the first place.
Bill’s finale is a chorale of hope, acknowledging that these changes take time, on the individual or on the national basis.
Each generation inherits the knowledge of the past and discovers new things that it hands on to future generations. Life is not a footrace where people declare victory at the finish line. Life continues on with or without us.
We can do this. We can do it for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren, for the country. I don’t claim to know for sure that we will succeed. I do believe that we will try.