The Heritage Foundation and The Federalist Society co-hosted a luncheon this afternoon promoting Justice Thomas’s My Grandfather’s Son, and featuring Thomas himself as the speaker. In his brief speech, Thomas described himself as just “an ordinary person to whom extraordinary things have happened.” His self-description is very appropriate, encapsulating the unassuming, humble quality that characterizes the man himself.
The most striking moment in his remarks was his response to a question about what he thought people would gain by reading his biography. His short answer was “hope.” A simple, and perhaps common enough answer, but considered in light of the many struggles (something about which he spoke at length during the event) that permeate the chapters of Thomas’s life; the answer turns out to be a rather extraordinary one. The kind of hope that Thomas is selling is not the hope for a life lived without struggle, nor does his idea of hope glow with the overwhelmingly disappointing idealism that has become a standard connotation for public use of the word. Rather, like the man himself, the “hope” he offers is a refreshingly real kind of hope, one that does not preclude the existence of the very struggles that shape a person.