Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Hope

Last weekend, I had a conversation with a friend about how shitty this world is becoming. We talked about the stubbornness and ambivalence of those with the power to control our military, about how the greed and ignorance of a few is destroying the safety and stability of many, how denial and politics and apathy are putting our planet’s survival in jeopardy, and how our friends and countrymen are fighting a war they don’t believe in. As part of our conversation, my friend said that he has always wanted to have kids, but he’s not sure anymore about bringing children into a world that has gone so wrong. I can understand this, since for the last few months I’ve been following the news closely, reading about disaster after death after political fuck-up, and it’s been getting me pretty scared. Several times I’ve reached a point of despair thinking about the things my children and grandchildren could witness if things continue the way they are going.

After dwelling on all this for a long time, I realized that what has made me feel the worst is that I gave in to the despair. I have always been an optimist, but I gave in. Maybe because I’ve had a hard and emotional month on a personal level, maybe because things really are getting bad. But now I’ve had enough of fear and despair, and I’m going back to hope. What’s the point of living in darkness and fear and pessimism when there is still so much right with the world and when we can be putting our efforts toward that. Yes, crappy stuff is happening, and you know what? Crappy stuff has happened since the dawn of man. i know it’s on a different level now, and sometimes it does feel like the world is ending. But as long as we have the ability to love, laugh and have fun, and as long as there is clean soil and blue sky and flowering trees and wilderness, there is hope.

I don’t think I’m being an idealist here- I know the reality of what our world is facing. I see it in the news, I read it in papers, I hear it from people I trust, and I see it daily in my work with women and children who have experienced domestic violence. But there’s so much more: I read about a registered Republican protesting the war because he understands the economic repercussions it is having on our society. I see my fellow Portlanders selling their cars and buying bikes and transit passes to save money and cut down on the environmental impact of cars. I see my clients finding themselves again after abuse, connecting with other women and having hope again after years of being silenced and shut down. A black man and a woman are running for president of a country that has been dominated for 200 years by rich white men. There is still good in the world, and I think if we can see that and remember that, we can at the very least neutralize the fear-mongering and the despair. As I think about my friend’s worries about bringing children into this world, I feel his concern, but I also think that if we can raise children with awareness, hope, love, and a commitment to our planet and our fellow humans, then we are making a positive addition to the world. If we participate in a conscious and sustainable lifestyle, educate others when we get the chance, and don’t let the darkness in the world take us over, we can make it. This is my decision: I will acknowledge the awful things happening in the world, but I will not get dragged down by them. I will use them as reason to act, educate, and to hope for better things. I will be a hopemonger.

If I could tell the world just one thing,
It would be: we’re all okay,
And not to worry, ’cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these.

I won’t be made useless
I won’t be idle with despair,
I’ll gather myself around my faith
Light is the darkness most fear.

These hands are small I know
But they’re not yours,
They are my own,
And I am never broken.

-Jewel, "Hands"

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