"If somebody says 'Your money or your life,' you could say, 'Life.' And mean it. You'll see things collapse in your time, the big houses, the empires of glass. The new green things that sprout up through the wreck — those will be yours.
"The arc of history is longer than human vision. It bends. We abolished slavery, we granted universal suffrage. We have done hard things before. And every time it took a terrible fight between people who could not imagine changing the rules, and those who said, 'We already did. We have made the world new.' The hardest part will be to convince yourself of the possibilities, and hang on."
At Duke in 2008, Kingsolver, the author of a dozen books (including The Poisonwood Bible), didn't shy away from weighty matters. Without being preachy, she enumerated the perils of climate change, of the all-consuming need to accumulate wealth and of, in this age of digital connectedness, our increasing isolation from one another. But this beautifully written speech ends on a hopeful note. "The ridiculously earnest are known to travel in groups," she said. "And they are known to change the world."