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hope, some notes

(Notes which raise questions, more than they give answers)

Hope is different from optimism. Hope, as shallow optimism, can be used as a weapon of oppression. For example:

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is [….] the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time; and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from a Birmingham Jail


But hopefulness remains necessary, in our effort to orient ourselves towards a future, towards certain big and painful facts of existence – to which we must orient ourselves or else hide our heads in the sand.

– justice and equality, poverty (violence)
– sustainability & environmental crisis (emergency)
– human catastrophe
– something always present and overarching – to do with joy, presence, spirituality & inversely to do with alienation, desecration

Therefore, hope has to be:

  • something you do, not something you feel (a practise)
  • something that develops a relationship – between care (attention) and transformation

John Berger: ‘Hold everything dear’ :
“The quality of a way of sharing which disarms the leading question of: why was one born into this life?
This way of sharing disarms and answers the question not with a promise, or a consolation, or an oath of vengeance – these forms of rhetoric are for the small or large leaders who make History – and this way disarmingly answers the question despite history. Its answer is brief, brief but perpetual. One was born into this life to share the time that repeatedly exists between moments: the time of Becoming, before Being risks to confront one yet again with undefeated despair.”

A possible continuum for the undefeated, into which a hopeful practice may fit :
despair – endurance – resilience

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