Archive for October 27th, 2017

Keeping Hope, Again

I have been filled with a dark and foreboding anxiety lately.  It’s even deeper and darker than the uneasiness and apprehension that has been with me for the past year as I watch the fabric of this country seem to unravel before my eyes. In recent weeks I get the sense that we are nearing a tipping point, that without some sort of dramatic change in our course forward we may find ourselves at a time and place from which there may be no recovery. 

At least in a peaceful and orderly manner.

I know this sounds hyperbolic but I feel that even darker days may be ahead. 

It’s easy to lose grip on our hope in these times, to feel our own humanity slip away only to be replaced by fear, anger and paranoia. That is something that seems evident by observing the growing division and incivility taking place in day to day life. 

As bad as it seems, I am reminded of an entry posted here several years back soon after the death of historian and social activist Howard Zinn. It was about the need to behave as a real human in the darkest of times, if only to remind us of those better qualities that we are struggling to maintain. The world may be dark and darkening with each passing moment, but kindness and compassion have the power to create moments of light that defy the shadows that creep over us and to give us a renewed energy to go on.

It’s short–less than the blather I’ve written here to introduce it– but it is worth a moment to absorb it. The last paragraph is a gem.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

——Howard Zinn


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