Hope is Essential, (especially when it’s hard to find.)

“Hope begins in the dark.”

(Anne Lamott)

The eyes of a child…

Children have a tendency to be more hopeful than adults as a general rule. Even, (and sometimes especially,) traumatized children can find and cling to what’s good, even when things are so very bad. Adults try to write kids off as “unrealistic.” But are they, really?

G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” There is a critically important truth in the middle of the simplicity of a young person’s thoughts. As adults, we can forget that, and rush right past the thing that we need most.

The irony of our jadedness

I find it ironic that most children have this ability, while those of us with any age on us can gravitate to a jaded hopelessness with lightning speed. Think about – as an adult, you have likely experienced significant pain and struggle. The older we get, the more crap we survive: Natural disasters, unnatural disasters, injustices that try to destroy entire groups of people, corrupt political maneuvers, deaths, losses, heartbreak, stolen dreams, disillusionment… We have seen, and survived, it all.

Read that last sentence again: We have seen, and survived, it all.

In learning that the world is not always a fair, beautiful or even fundamentally safe place, so many of us lose our sense of hope for something better. We know that unimaginable, negative things happen, and we get stuck there. Yes, dragons exist. We knew that when we were children! What we also knew as children that we appear to have forgotten, is that dragons can be defeated.

Your Dragon Slaying record

How many times have you been through awful experiences? And how many times have you survived them? Every. Single. Time. You are changed by the experiences, to be sure. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. And, you. Are. Still. Here.

You, are a dragon slayer.

Hopelessness kills; Hope creates.

Quite sincerely, on the cellular level, losing our sense of hope for a better future deteriorates us. Our biochemistry changes. Our genes mutate. We perceive threat and activate our vagus nerves causing our focus to narrow and our body systems over-activate in a counterproductive effort to keep us alive. We go into literal survival mode in the presence of threat.

In survival mode, the part of our brain that is able to create solutions, find meaning, fight for needed change, has gone offline.  A body consumed with survival gives no energy to fueling creative thought.  It can’t: It’s too busy conserving energy in its attempt to fend off dying.

In the current climate, we cannot afford to let our creativity go offline.

The Fever and the Cure

Stark awareness of suffering and injustice has erupted in the human family around the globe. What was once ignored by the comfortable is now undeniable. To some, this is new news.  To others, it was something sort of simmering in the background, but easy to ignore.  For others, the disparity in justice, health care, access to fundamentals necessary for survival and economic stability have always been a daily existential threat.

The upheaval we see today is the thermometer that makes our fever impossible to ignore. A fever can kill you if you ignore it.

Dragon slayers, if we are going to tend this fever, it will take all of your creativity to move toward sustainable solutions. We can’t stay stuck on the presence of the fever – we must use our anger, our rage, our fear, our sense of injustice as diagnostic and get busy creating viable cures.

The Virus and the Virus

The COVID virus has affected every member of the Human Family in one way or another. Its vastness and devastating reach have empowered immunologists to work day and night to find a cure. They hold hope that they can use their knowledge and combined experience to create a vaccine. Otherwise, they wouldn’t bother.

And so it is with injustice as well. If we fail to account for hope; If we drown in the weighty waters of all that is wrong, the creativity we need to imagine and create a different future will drown along with our hope.

We can’t afford that.

You can’t afford that.

YOU are part of the Solution

Go back and find child inside of you, who knew dragons could be defeated.  Find the part of you that knows that you have unique gifts that will work in conjunction with others and effect change at every level. As you tap into your anger, your rage, your fear, your frustration and fury, tap also into the resiliency that you have proven over and over and over again in your life. Carefully consider what you bring to the table, and bring it.

We need you.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”

(Anne Lamott)