I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been away; I’ve been sick. And I’ve been discouraged.
It’s tough for people engaged in justice work to keep a sense of hope. Or rather, speaking personally, the last few months have been challenging for me; and there have been times in my life when hope seemed an elusive dream. As the musical group West My Friend sings, “We live on thin hope, thin hope.” My sense of hope feels especially thin these days.
Where do I find hope? I’ve been thinking about this.
I DO TAKE HOPE from my recent participation in the Inspire conference held at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church in late April. I was one of the older participants in the Contemplative Justice stream of this conference and I take hope that younger people are taking up the call to live justice arising out of contemplative practices and community.
I DO TAKE HOPE from the likes of Joanna Macy, who has written about hope. Her latest work is around the Great Turning and involves 1) taking actions to slow the damage to the earth and its beings, 2) engaging in analysis of structural causes of climate damage and seeking to create structural alternatives, and 3) shifting our consciousness. See her work at www.joannamacy.net.
I DO TAKE HOPE from the likes of Vikki Reynolds. She was in Nelson a while ago and presented an inspiring workshop on what it means to be a healing community. She’s written an article called Resisting burnout with justice-doing. I really liked Vikki’s words that “the problem with burnout is not in our heads or in our hearts, but in the real world where there is a lack of justice.” See her work and writings at www.vikkireynolds.ca; you can click on documents and search for the article I mentioned above.
I DO TAKE HOPE from Jesus, especially the Sermon on the Mount and the challenge that this presents to live holistically. I’ve appreciated John Dominic Crossan’s work on distributive justice. At the heart of Jesus’ work, building on the prophets and the priests who went before him in Judaism, is the idea that God’s intention for the world is that all life be lived with a radical equality, that life, abundance, hope, love, and compassion are for all equally.
So, I write, listen to music, and play a bit of music. I hike regularly and engage in deep conversation. I pay attention to what is happening in the world and seek ways to participate in distributive justice. I collaborate with others and try to be in community to “seek justice and resist evil,” as The United Church of Canada New Creed says.
And, I try to do my bit in raising issues that need our attention… things like ending the 50 years of occupation that Palestinians have endured since the 6-Day war in June of 1967. Things like helping to create a more balanced political discussion in BC that isn’t so polarized, where every vote counts through some kind of proportional representation. Things like affirming the beauty of each person and seeking to end transphobia, biphobia and homophobia (May 17th is IDAHOT). Things like working deeply in reconciliation work with 1st Nations, including the Sinixt people of the Kootenay Region and protecting Qat’Muk (Jumbo) as a spiritual territory of the ktunaxa. Things like working to create an economic system that is fair and life-giving. Things like seeking to enhance climate justice for all creation.
In writing this, it would seem I have more hope than I thought. It is helpful to remind ourselves—I need to be reminded every day—that as Martin Luther King, Jr said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
So maybe for some of us, hope IS thin; but even thin hope is better than no hope. And what’s more, all of us sharing our thin hopes together… now that creates thick hope!