Monday, December 26, 2016

Hope Is Something You Create

I've spent the last few days with my family, mostly ignoring the wider world. It was just what I needed. I am lucky in the family department: we all like each other as well as loving each other, and I genuinely look forward to spending time with them. Christmas was tiring (a lot of cooking!) but wonderful, and I went to bed last night a very happy person.

As part of "mostly ignoring the wider world," I have not been reading as much online as I usually do. I can't say why I decided to click on a link to read an article about Children of Men and how it is resonating for people in 2016. I have not seen the movie. (I see very few movies: I can appreciate that they are an art form, but I find modern movies too immersive. They often give me nightmares, so I just don't go to the movies much.) I was actively avoiding potentially depressing things about the state of the world right now. And yet, I clicked, and I read the entire thing.

Towards the end, there is a passage about hope that rewarded my random decision to read this article:

Sure, he says, climate change could decimate humanity, but that’s no excuse to give in to fatalism. “There would be, still, pockets of populations that will scatter around the world,” he says. “What’s at stake is the culture as we know it.” Humans will continue to exist — and we have a responsibility to build a culture of respect and mutual assistance. It seems so dreadfully unlikely, but we are obligated to hope.

CuarĂ³n is very specific about what he means by that word. For him, it is not a passive thing. It is not a messianic thing, either — he speaks derisively of the idea that you could vote for Barack Obama, then sit back passively and feel disappointed. “The hope is something that you create,” he says. “You live by hoping and then you create that change. Hope is trying to change your present for a better world. It’s pretty much up to you.”

As I've been thinking about what I want to do in 2017, I keep coming back to the idea that I want to be more involved in my community. There are many different ways to try to change our present for a better world. I am already doing some: giving money to causes I believe in, working to raise my children well, and trying to always be kind in my personal interactions (not always succeeding, but always trying). That increasingly feels like the minimum standard, and I want to do more. So I am thinking more broadly about how to change my present for a better world. There is work to do at every scale: from the neighborhood to the nation to the world. The scale that feels right to me is the city. I've identified a couple of volunteering options, and choosing one and getting involved is definitely going on my 2017 goals list, and it is a goal I plan to act on in January.

More generally, I think I will make my mantra for 2017 "hope is something you create," and let that guide my actions next year.

In the meantime, I hope all of you are also enjoying some time to rejuvenate as we look ahead to 2017. I'll start working on my annual year in review post soon, but this year more than most, I want to look forward, not back.


  1. EarthSciProf7:50 PM

    Thanks for another great post. Your posts over the last 2 months have been concretely helpful as I've tried to figure out how to respond to the election results. "Children of Men" is quite good (though I saw it on DVD, would have been overwhelming on big screen).

  2. Thank you for this and the other posts that you gave since November. It heartening to see that not everyone is a 'dog eat dog' mode that seems to be consuming the West and other places. I really appreciate your posts and actions and it has also embolden me.


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