How do we sustain HOPE in times of crisis?
It’s really hard to have a positive outlook or hope with all that’s happening in the world today: political chaos, hate, violence, environmental disaster, and a list much too long to write here. And worse, it seems that people are feeding off all this hatred and chaos and it continues to grow, taking over everything else, like a vine that consumes and strangles a tree’s life. Sometimes it gets so discouraging, that I, like many others I know, just want to bury my head in the sand like an ostrich.
I could ignore it and pretend it isn’t happening. I can dream about moving out of the country if things get worse. Many people are talking about that.
However, that is not what I’m here to do in this lifetime. I am here to create transformative change in my community, my state, my country and my world, and I hope you are too.
For me to do that, I have to bring vision and hope – both to myself and others. To do this I begin with dreaming, with visioning about what I want the world to look like.
Eleanor Roosevelt said “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”.
Fred Pollack, a well-known Jewish Dutch historian who went into hiding during World War II, used that time to study 3000 years of civilizations to understand what made some societies flourish, while others self-destructed. He found through his research that only those that held a vision of the future of their society were the ones that thrived and succeeded. Those that didn’t hold a vision turned to violence, war, and eventually self-destruction.
He concluded that a society’s image of itself becomes a roadmap for its future. He wrote, “Those societies with positive and vital images flourish while those with uninspired images stagnate.” He added, “We found the positive image of the future at work in every instance of the flowering of culture, and weakened images of the future as a primary factor in the decay of cultures.” [The Image of the Future, Fred Polak, translated and abridged by Elise Boulding, Jossey-Bass, Inc. 1973 (p.800)]
Why have we become a society lacking vision and hope for a much better world? Here are some quotations that inspire me:
“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT”. – Abraham Lincoln
“All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.” – John F. Kennedy
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”, and “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Ultimately leadership is about the strength of one’s convictions, the ability to endure the punches, and the energy to promote an idea. And I have found that those who do achieve peace never acquiesce to obstacles, especially those constructed of bigotry, intolerance and inflexible tradition.” – Benazir Bhutto – Former Prime Minister of Pakistan
Although all of these people gave their lives for their beliefs and their visions, they still inspire generations after them.
While I am motivated by these amazing, brave visionaries, I realize having a “leader” is NOT enough. We can’t wait on one person to step up and take leadership and tell us what we need to do. We all have to “shout from the mountaintops.” We need to join together, create a collective vision, and work together to bring hope to a community, a state, a nation, the world.
We begin by looking for the seeds of hope around us. There are lots. Think of each one as an acorn (I have some on my vision altar), and then imagine it as a seed of hope growing into the largest oak tree you have ever seen. We need to start planting now, wherever we are.
What is the barrier to visioning and creating a world that is just and beautiful? For most people, it is lack of time, commitment, or money. Sometimes, we’re not strategic about how we work for transformation and get caught up in the minutiae without a long-term vision to keep us on the right path.
I want to invite you to do three things.
- First, figure out what you would need to be able to commit 2-4 hours to social change a week. Could it be not scrolling mindlessly through social media sites, or not watching a couple hours of television one night just to escape the burdens and reality of everyday life? Many of us are devoting most of our time to making change, but I often hear from people they just don’t have time to make a two- hour meeting, or to go out in the community to canvass and educate neighbors, or drive people to the polls.
- Share this blog and webinar invitation for a visioning webinar with other friends and allies. Have conversations with others.
- Figure out how you can support other organizations doing this work. Can you give up that $3 coffee each day? Or $50 on eating out each week? Or just figure out $5 a week that you could squeeze from your budget.
And remember, it is critical for those doing this work all the time, to devote some time to self-care, whether spiritual or singing or writing poetry or spending time in nature. This gives us the ability to dream and work for social change. Yet, many think they are too busy to even do this basic piece by caring for ourselves first.
I invite you to join me on a webinar on October 5, 7pm – 8pm EST (4pm – 5pm PST) to explore this type of visioning and creating hope for yourself and others. [Click Here to Sign UP] Hope is contagious and we need to create an epidemic of it in this country. We’ve done it before. Now more than ever, it’s important to our survival, both at an individual level and a world level.
If you can’t make this webinar, let us know if you are interested in another date, and we will set another time up as well.