The Case for Hope
Today, I was inspired to make the case for hope. So I began by thinking about all the things that bring me hope these days. They are not big things. They are, in fact, mostly small things. They are things like dancing my heart out on random Thursday nights with fabulous queer folks as we take over straight spaces and celebrate our lives with pride. Like gathering in rooms with like-minded, passionate souls as we make strategic plans for bringing justice and change to our communities; as we laugh and cry and rage together. Little things, like the stories of amazing acts of courage and positive action that get passed around on the internet, and the millions of such stories that we never even hear about. And I thought about the diverse and radical women who have won seats in political offices all over the country this year.
Then I sat and stared at my screen for awhile. Not because I didn't know where to go from there or that I didn't know what else to say about hope (I happen to have a lot of hope despite plenty of available evidence to the contrary), but because I knew that everything I wanted to say about hope has already been said. The best, most authentic, most beautiful argument for hope that I've ever read, I found in "Hope in the Dark" by Rebecca Solnit and I recommend that book to every human being currently living on the planet. So instead of writing my own message about hope, I'm going to share my favorite passages from that book. This is a serious cop-out as a blog writer, but these words speak for themselves so I'm doing it anyway. Enjoy. And here's to hope.
“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, a alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what is may impact, are not things we can know beforehand. We may not, in fact, know them afterward either, but they matter all the same, and history is full of people whose influence was most powerful after they were gone.”
“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth's treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal... To hope is to give yourself to the future - and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.”
“Hope just means another world might be possible, not promise, not guaranteed. Hope calls for action; action is impossible without hope.”
“To hope is to gamble. It's to bet on your futures, 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.”
Thanks Rebecca Solnit. Mad props to you.
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