humble ramble. Vol 2: hope
I felt compelled to write about hope today.
Actually, there’s hardly a day that goes by in which the word does not cross my lips or emerge from my cumulative keystrokes. I think and talk about it because I see its manifestations in the smallest acts of kindness and courageous, symbolic gestures of humanity. Observing humans taking care with themselves and others fills me with joy, solace and energy amidst the daily inundation of calamitous stories the mainstream discourse serves up.
Hope acts as the counterbalance to fear. I feel that it lies at the heart of the revolutionary change taking hold around the world today in the face of mounting crises.
Some have sought to relegate hope as whimsical and ineffectual — a passive orientation towards the concrete challenges of the day. For me, though it is the canvas upon which our future can be envisioned. It is part faith, part courage, part imagination, and even more, that it is necessary for transformation. It does not pre-suppose a positive outcome or shrink from a seemingly untenable or unwinnable situation, it stands nonetheless.
Hope is a beautifully human word. I would argue it is the narrative of humankind, and always has been. In my first humble ramble, I talked about our apparent affinity for certainty. In many ways, certainty is the antithesis of hope, an attempt to stifle engagement, to preclude citizenship. Certainty is an important element of the capitalist narrative and a key battleground upon which climate discourse is waged. The idea that capitalism (as told by those who benefit from its telling) is just how it is, is a contrivance. Its intention is to disempower those who can imagine and hope for something better. As Ursula K. LeGuin wrote of capitalism, “… Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.”
Capitalism is not our future. It is barely our current reality, simply the garish facade of desperate time already past. If you can see beyond the ads, the conditioned consumption, you will see our planet and ourselves in peril. Our collective hope and its cultivation towards a future that perhaps we cannot yet name or imagine, is a fundamental ingredient for revolution. Rebecca Solnit writes:
“Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. Sometimes one person inspires a movement, or her words do decades later; sometimes a few passionate people change the world; sometimes they start a mass movement and millions do; sometimes those millions are stirred by the same outrage or the same ideal, and change comes upon us like a change of weather. All that these transformations have in common is that they begin in the imagination, in hope.
To hope is to gamble. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.”
We are in a time of discontinuity, hurtling towards greater disruption with tools designed for problems of an era already gone. As Alex Steffen describes, we are not yet ready for what has already happened. The scope and pace at which we need to change are accelerating, steeply. The case for centering imagination, for seeking out alternatives and for sharing them, for experimenting, for acting with hope, even in the dark has never been stronger.
“Hopefulness is risky, since it is after all a form of trust, trust in the unknown and the possible, even in discontinuity.” — Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark.