We’ve had a lot to process over the past few weeks: Brexit, the tragedies in Florida and Nice, the incident in Turkey and the bombings in Syria. All that alone would drive the happiest of people to despair of our world. What is happening? It’s a question we’re forced to ask ourselves every day as we witness another event of horror. I’ve been reading a lot about coping mechanisms and how to process these events; why it’s important to watch the news, to stay informed but not let this taint everything. Because the news has been bad. Soul destroying. I even read a piece about how it’s no longer considered “chic” to smile (yes, really). And that’s when I realised, how important it is to hope for more smiling and brighter times.
It isn’t easy; sadness and atrocities beyond compare are occurring almost daily, and we’re in the midst of heartbreaking global and national turmoil that is more visible, and therefore more shocking, than ever before. But there is always strength to be found in these moments too, watching dust-covered strangers cradling one another, the Turkish people demanding their democratic vote be preserved, a woman being reunited with her child after the Nice attack. We face these atrocities with an inescapable capability to remain positive and find comfort in one another.
I recently read the work of writer Rebecca Solnit, who so eloquently, wrote about the complexities of feeling hopeful in times of strife:
Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away
Hope isn’t, she says, the belief that everything was, is, or will be fine. It’s about having hope with perspective, with specific possibilities, ones that invite or demand that we act. It can counter the everything-is-getting-worse narrative with action. Maybe you’ll donate to Red Cross, organise a charity night or raise awareness by getting a hashtag trending on Twitter – the important thing is that you’re taking action, ultimately driven by hope; hope that you can in some way make a difference.
As Solnit explains further: “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. It’s the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.”
I remember once reading that often, the times we are lost are when we are forced to find ourselves again. And in doing this, some balance can be restored. The bad times are intertwined with the good, but hope will always dilute the darkness. Hope may be silent, but in darkness, it is loud and powerful.