President Obama and Marilynne Robinson: A conversation in Iowa – New York Review, 5 November 2015
Robinson: I think that the basis of democracy is the willingness to assume well about other people. You have to assume that basically people want to do the right thing. I think that you can look around society and see that basically people do the right thing. But when people begin to make these conspiracy theories and so on, that make it seem as if what is apparently good is in fact sinister, they never accept the argument that is made for a position that they don’t agree with.
(I wanted to illustrate this with a picture of someone doing the right thing. Turns out my picture collection contains more photos of dogs being carried in bicycle baskets. But I like this one, taken at Jurmala, Latvia, last summer. The man on the right – as I’m about to walk across the rails while photographing the train behind him – is pointing out to me the train coming from the other direction.)