Hope is hard. Hope is hard because it asks us to look at the ugliness around us and to dream of more than what we see. It demands we reach beyond the abyss we see when we look upon violence and hate that grips so much around us, in us, through us. Hope is the hard road, the rough road, the road that says “Stand up”.
It is hard to hope. It is hard to hope when so many are arrayed against it. Yet hope is not delusion, is not a honeyed tongue, or a fever-dream. It is reachable and doable, even if only through steep odds. Yet hope, like many roads, begins with steps, and keeps on with determination. It must be chosen. Yes, the skies are poisoned, the seas are choked with plastic, the world roils under the heat we produce. Yes, massacre and genocide sweeps across the world and eats, a furious glutton on the entrails of all who feed it. Even in that there is hope. There are the small steps; the person who seeks alternatives to their consumption, the person who uses less and saves more. There is the person who opens their home to refugees, who squirrels away the children so they will not become child soldiers; it will not stop the war, but one more will not need to suffer. There are the small steps of a person who plants a garden and eats from their own yard, or the person who drives less or is more efficient in their energy use. There are the small steps of a person who stands up and says ‘No, no more’. These are not just gestures but points of hope put into action. That we can and are changing.
Do we need big steps? Yes, of course we do, but these are steps we can take as individuals, then communities. When our resolve becomes to stand before the problems we face, from climate change to genocide, from ecological disaster to the gutting of our communities, hope is there because we stand in our place and claim what power we have. We cede it far too much. No, a changed lightbulb or car route will not halt global warming, but it can inspire change through its demonstration of what action begins to look like. Will a single child saved stop a civil war? No, but it saves that child’s life for something more, one less killer, one less victim, inch by inch building up the hope that there can be a better tomorrow. Hope is generated by action seen through to its conclusion, is shaped by the hearts of those who seed it. So wherever you can, however you can, sow and grow hope.