The Truths We Hold | Sunday Observer

The Truths We Hold

23 January, 2022

Kamala Devi Harris wrote “The Truths We Hold” before she became the Vice President of the United States of America. It is a brilliant portrait of events and personalities of her years as a Senator. Her judgments of world leaders and colleagues are sometimes harsh. At the same time she is lavish with praise where it is due. At times, the book can be read as a thriller fiction.

The Government which she had envisaged before becoming the Vice President of the US was about the application of a philosophy, not the implementation of an administration. She sets out here with forcefulness and conviction the reasons of her beliefs and how she sought to turn them into reality. The book reveals the mind and personality of its author vividly. Her thoroughness, passion for change, tenacity and astonishing determination are evident in every chapter of the book.

As the first American woman Vice President Kamala Devi Harris brought about the biggest social and political revolution in the nation’s post-war history. She achieved it largely by the driving force of endless speculation among both her friends and foes.

Indian immigrant

Dan Morain says, “If Kamala owes her place in history to anyone it is to the 26-year-old Shyamala Gopalan, an Indian immigrant who gave birth to her at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California in 1964. Shyamala was married to a black immigrant Prof. Donald Harris. She made sure that her daughters knew their Indian heritage. She also understood that she was raising two black daughters.

At Westmount Kamala took part in pep rallies and started a dance troupe called “Midnight Magic” in the 1980s. When you turn the pages of the book, you come across many instances of where Kamala Harris was inspired by her mother. She says, “I knew quite well that equal justice has an inspiration. I knew that the force of the law was applied unevenly, sometimes by design. But I also knew that what was wrong with the system did not need to be an immutable fact and I wanted to be part of changing that.”

Her mother used to tell her, “Don’t let anybody tell you who you are; you tell them who you are.” Kamala followed her advice to the letter. She knew that part of making change was what she had seen all her life, surrounded by adults shouting, marching and demanding justice from the outside. But she knew that there was an important role for her inside.

Kamala was concerned about women’s issues, the economy, national security, health care, education, criminal justice reforms, and climate change. She knew that the people had not given up the “American dream.” She asks, “When you cannot sleep at night, how can you dream?” She was convinced that ordinary people are fundamentally good. If they get an opportunity, they will extend a helping hand to their neighbours.

Divided country

Today America is a deeply divided country. America needs leaders who could cement the cracks in society and heal politics infected by partisan politicking.

The democratic world is closely watching whether Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can rise up to the occasion.

Kamala has a track record. She was closely involved in reforming the American criminal justice system. Her other ambitions include raising the minimum wage, making concessions in higher education tuition fees for refugees and immigrants and protect their legal rights.

She writes, “To be a joyful warrior in the battle for the soul of the country my challenge is to join that effort.

Let’s not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves. Years from now, our children and grandchildren will ask us where we were when the stakes were so high. They will ask us what it was like. I don’t want to tell them how we felt, I want tell them what we did.”

The book will be of interest to politicians, students of politics and the general reader.

The reviewer is a freelance journalist based in Hyderabad, India