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Nuturing feelings of hope by Eileen Peck

I regularly come across people who, if they think about what’s going on in the world, see the future as bleak and say things like ‘There’s no hope’ and ‘What can I do to help change things?’

I can well understand their feelings, especially when bad news hits the headlines every day, but I choose to remember that Antonio Gramsci when he was ill and living in dire circumstances in jail as fascism was growing in the 1930’s, wrote that our need is for:

‘Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.’ 

Fast forward almost a hundred years and what he wrote then seems pretty relevant to our 21st-century world, especially since so many modern writers are echoing his view that hope is essential in these troubled times.

I’ve come to see that the fledgeling feelings of hope which I’m trying to hold on to are accompanied by some other pretty powerful emotions – confusion and anger.

Confusion and anger

Confusion, which seems to be a feature of our modern world, has been with me for some time because I wrote about it in my post ‘Dare we even think about it in our crazy world?’ as long ago as August 2018. And, of course, more recently I acknowledged that I, like my other concerned citizens, am suffering from eco-anxiety.

But top of my list as I contemplate our 21st Century world goes to anger. Yes, I am angry, very angry!  Why?

I’m angry at those with wealth and power, who have brought us to the brink of extinction, are using every means they can to hold on to their privileges and hold back the changes we desperately need

I’m angry that the planet we will leave our children has been assaulted to the point where we have decimated many treasures of the natural world

I’m angry when I think of those millions of refugees who often die as they struggle to leave miserable lives of warfare and hunger and go off in search of something better

I’m angry at those people who, while denouncing the bombing of innocent people in war, continue to sell arms to war-faring nations

I’m angry that people are homeless while homes bought up by billionaires sit empty

I’m angry that our democracy has been purloined, science and expertise have become so derided that objective truth is lost and fake news is taken seriously as it is poured out?

Pandemic Observation 1

The Covid-19 pandemic might well be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ and just the beginning of mass epidemics.

Scientists have for many years been forecasting the spread worldwide of a virus which they see resulting from our abusive treatment of animals and of the natural environment.

My anger was fuelled to boiling point recently when I discovered that almost 50 years ago a research-based book ‘The Limits of Growth’ predicted the end of civilisation unless we gave up on growth as the foundation of our way of life. (In 2004, Donella Meadows and Jorgen Randers published Limits to Growth: The 30-year update.)

Computer simulations aren’t too easy for me to grasp but the book predicted that unless we gave up on ‘growth at all costs’ the result would be a sudden and uncontrollable downturn beginning around 2020!

The book sold 30 million copies in 30 languages and the research on which it was based has been presented to international conferences worldwide. But growth remains central to our measure of success of a nation. Unbelievable!!![/box]

Stubborn Optimism

Pandemic Observation 2

If ever I needed an example of serendipity (meaningful coincidence, if you’ve not come across it before) it was just as I was feeling pretty low because the world’s madness had been made even worse by the Covid pandemic. Then, along came ‘The Future We Choose’. What a gift!

Not only did lockdown give me time to read and absorb it, but it’s message that we all need to harness our ‘stubborn optimism’ to find hope and take action seemed very, very, timely.

 

 

So, I choose to use the anger to move me to action because Global Optimism’s message that holding on to hope is essential was also made clear by Naomi Klein – author of the inspiring (and hopeful!) book ‘On Fire, The Burning Case for a Green New Deal’ in a Chanel 4 interview in October 2019.

Although she conceded that she was not ‘full of hope’ she said:

‘I do have some hope because the world is in political flux and there is a pathway where we could change our society for the better.  As long as there is any hope I’m only interested in improving our chances of that happening. We just have to work at improving our chances of getting a Green New Deal.’

The Global Green New Deal – what’s that all about?  Something to think about next …

 

 
Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay

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