The subtitle of a new book by John Saunders (finished by John Bacon after Saunders' death), is "My Journey from Despair to Hope." Saunders' story is, in many ways, a heartbreaking one. His experiences of various forms of abuse as a child and his bouts of depression over the years are tough to read at times, but the story is ultimately one of hope.
Not only did Saunders struggle with depression, but dealt with a significant brain injury as well as heart trouble. At times as I read this book, I couldn't believe the trials he experienced. The fact that he was able to make it through them should inspire those who read this book to persist and endure as he did.
One of the trials he discusses is what it is like to be black in America. Saunders was raised in Canada, and writes about the differences between life in his home country and life here in the United States. He describes being pulled over once by a New Jersey State Trooper. The trooper took his license, registration, and insurance information back to his squad car. After about twenty minutes, Saunders says that the trooper came back and tossed the cards in his face, and asked, "Know why I stopped you?" Saunders shrugged. The trooper said, "Because you are a n***** in a Porsche," and walked away (p. 152).
Prior to his death, and despite dealing with physical and psychological illness as well as racism, Saunders describes his life as a slow but consistent process of getting a little better each day. He was able to find love, to give love to others as well as receive it from them. This makes sense, as love in its many forms can serve as a foundation for a hope that can overcome despair. That is one of the main lessons I took away from this vulnerable account of the life of Saunders, and it is one we would all do well to remember an apply to our own lives.