The River Always Wins

BOOK REVIEW by Willard Manus

David Marquis, a writer and activist who is based in Dallas, looks at the impact water has on the earth and those who reside upon it. His book, THE RIVER ALWAYS WINS, was inspired by the 1995 election of Ron Kirk as the first African-American mayor of Dallas.

"I wrote a poem for an inaugural event about a river that made its way to the sea," Marquis explains. "The thought stayed with me and became the genesis for this book."

The book is small, just 114 pages long, but it is packed with wisdom, poetry and spirituality, all of which serve to remind us "that water is a metaphor for hope and progress."

Early on, Marquis observes that "The river is made of drops. Every river in the world--the Ganges, the Nile, the Amazon, the Mississippi--is made of drops. One drop is one drop is every drop." He adds: "Rivers, ancient as days, may differ in the life along their banks, their depth, or the frequency of their flooding, but one thing is true: if enough drops flow together in the same direction long enough, the river always wins.

"There was a time in this country when black people were enslaved because of the color of their skin, but the river won. There was a time when women were not allowed to vote, but the river won. Through many centuries gay people had to live in the shadows and hide their trues selves, but the river is winning on that issue and will continue to.

"If enough drops flow together in the same direction long enough, the river always wins."

Marquis amplifies on this theme over the course of THE RIVER ALWAYS WINS, quoting stalwarts like Einstein, Gandhi and Martin Luther King to make his case that "the river of freedom continues to flow to the Greater Water." At the same time, he acknowledges that "changing hearts is the hard part...Not even a hard head compares with the intransigence of a hardened heart...Racism persists. Homophobia. Sexism. Agism. Violence."

Change is always possible, though, he insists, pointing to "a young boxer named Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali and became a drop of water pushing for peace and was widely derided and suffered the slings and arrows of the same crowd that once cried, 'Barabbas!' yet by the end of his life was cherished, the Champ to all. The old accusations and blames had melted away. He died beloved by the world. Hardened hearts had reached a softer place. Hope moves on. It has to."