At the beginning of the year our youngest son sent us a link to the 99 best things that happened in 2017. He may have most likely been disappointed with our ranting about so much around that make us despair and anxious (over the Christmas-New Year’s break). In these times and with all the ‘bad news’ we are being daily fed, one may easily identify with the words of the singer Joan Armatrading – “these are the times…you’re bound to feel/All sanity is lost”. Her song though is filled with hope!
While, we are not alone in struggling for and to hope, all is not lost: there are positive things happening around us: try reading positive news or look up the ‘un-reported year 2017’ by New Internationalist. Or consider the 99 best things above. There are shoots of hope, though in these times words continue to fail us.
Maybe, the silence or becoming speechless is not necessarily a negative thing in a situation where we are overloaded with words and sound-bites. Perhaps, our awareness would find necessary space to thrive and feed us for constructive engagement. Isn’t it the case that despair and anxiety of the moment will cause us not to think instinctively of the present, but of the future, surmising it is going to be bleak and hopeless? Yet, uncertainty of the future carries with it hope-filled possibilities.
The January (20th) 2018 issue of New Scientist weekly magazine carried as its cover-story: ‘the writing on the wall’ – about signs that Western civilisation has started to collapse. The writer of the main piece, Laura Spinney, observes:
“So is the West really on the ropes? Perhaps, but ultimately its survival will depend on the speed with which people can adapt. If we don’t reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, tackle inequality and find a way to stop elites from squabbling among themselves, things will not end well.” [p.31]
The title of piece suggests (from my reading) a multiple play: the writing is certainly that we are ‘on the ropes’: yet at the same time there is hope but we need to adapt and act! In times such as ours and when polarised views continue to thrive – it is tempting to retreat into our shells and small silos. Hope urges us to turn to the neighbour instead of ‘turning-in’ on ourselves!
“the greatest impediment to addressing our ecological crisis is the pervasive anthropocentric illusion underpinning current human relationships. These interactions continue as if humans are separate from the biosphere, and as if nature can be forced into mute subservience to human will.” [Ben Collyer, 42]
A significant point, especially from Freyfogle, that has bearing on the matter of hope and positive action, is that campaigns for change and a better world (such as the ecological one) should work the angle of a promise for a brighter future rather than trying to ‘motivate by guilt and shame’. [Ben Collyer, 43] I agree with this as I have learnt in diversity and intercultural awareness training. Thus what Freyfogle proposes is positive liberties (moving away from what Isaiah Berlin’s named as ‘negative liberties’). This will mean an overarching framework that would have fullness of life and the enrichment of creation and community at its core.
Hope is here. She is staring us ion the eyes and heart. She has never moved away. Can you hear the music of Marley’s positive vibrations?