Strategy for the Times: Grounded Hope

Bad news and tragedy surround us. The challenges appear to be enormous. Daunting. How do we hold ourselves up and make a difference in these times?

I believe that hope, grounded hope, is a necessary starting point.

Grounded hope emerges when we look at reality straight on, stand firm, and determine to believe that a better future is a possibility worth striving for.

This form of hope is an expression of “liberatory consciousness,” the framework developed by Barbara Love:

“Liberatory consciousness is a framework used to maintain an awareness of the dynamics of oppression characterizing society without giving in to despair and hopelessness about that condition and enabling us to practice intentionality about changing systems of oppression.”

Hope allows us to access our personal power. It is a mindset for strengthening resilience and our capacity to organize and act.

To be hopeful doesn’t mean we are optimistic. It does mean that we can envision something better and choose to act.

Arthur C, Brooks in his 2020 Atlantic article on the difference between hope and optimism, wrote:

“…optimism is the belief that things will turn out all right; hope makes no such assumption but is a conviction that one can act to make things better in some way.”

Brooks adds:

“You can be a hopeful pessimist who makes negative predictions about the future but has confidence that you can improve things in your life and others’.

In case just reading the word hope brings a cynical sneer to your face, do consider:

What’s the flip side of hope? Despair.

Despair is empty. Despair is depleting. Despair is giving up.

Rebecca Traister’s essay in The Cut about the necessity of hope nails it:

“But despair is poison. It deadens people when the most important thing they can do is proceed with more drive and force and openness than they have before. Which is why the work ahead is insisting on hope, behaving as if there is reason for hope, even if you feel, based on the ample available evidence, that there is not.”

Traister references the work of prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba, who has said: “Hope is a discipline.” “It’s less about ‘how you feel’ and more about the practice of making a decision every day that you’re still gonna put one foot in front of the other, that you’re still going to get up in the morning. And you’re still going to struggle … It’s work to be hopeful.”

You can listen to or read the full interview with Mariame Kaba that Taister quotes from here:

These times call for courage, resilience, learning, and action. Consider choosing to adopt the mindset of grounded hope.

I encourage you to read the articles I have quoted.

Reflect on what you can do to build up your reservoir of hope.

Imagine a better world. Choose one aspect to focus on. If climate change is the focus, what is a specific outcome you can imagine?

Envision working towards that goal.

Who is already out there doing the work? What can you learn from them? How can you get involved?

What is one small action can you take to get started?

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