This blog post began as a text conversation between me and Carol. I was so struck by her clear and beautifully articulated thoughts that I asked if I could publish them. I really appreciate her willingness to bring those thoughts to a wider arena.
Optimism and hope
by Carol DeMars, Atlanta, Georgia
It’s so hard to remain optimistic in this age of extraordinarily divisive politics and religion, though even the phrase “remain optimistic” implies a perhaps misleading positivity.
I have tended not to be optimistic for a very long time but periodically have hope. There was a temporary state of euphoria when Obama was elected (on my birthday!)… but the white backlash to that election deepened during his campaign and became outright vicious during his presidency.
The outcomes of Georgia’s November 3rd and January 5th elections were profoundly heartening reset buttons, only now to produce deeper widespread division—crude, dangerous, sickening. This has become a portent of a very unsettling future at the peril of our democracy. Trump has unleashed the beast again, and we have had a taste of where that can lead.
Still, one has to cherish occasions for hope, however brief, perhaps even ephemeral. You can’t just go around being gloomy all the time, not good for anyone’s well being, is it? Hope motivates us to seek and work for good outcomes. On the other hand, being aware of danger serves to wake us up. It seems that’s what the prophets kept trying to do and when warning was not heeded and the gosh awful happened, they were the ones that could also look beyond catastrophe.
It has seemed to me that, for decades, we as a nation, as a global community, have been in denial of our vulnerabilities—natural disasters, nuclear and germ and now cyber warfare, dwindling potable and accessible water, economic crashes of all sorts… you know the litany, so it has felt very grim for a long time. However, such crisis does inspire and evoke new, creative solutions—that old adage, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”
One choice book I’ve had for years is Thomas S. Kuhn’s, THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS. It’s really about what happens in the scientific community when a new paradigm of how things are is introduced, and the pushback that is aroused. You are likely very aware of that explanation being applied to our social paradigms of status quo: when those are threatened, resistance is evoked.
Clearly, this is not a one-off in the social world—one only has to think about the never-ending struggle for the justice that those brought here in slavery never had and which continues for their descendants. The resistance never seems to end.
Like Biden said, however, we don’t need everyone, we just need enough. Therein lies the marker for more enduring and effectual hope. I find that a powerful principle.