Practicing Hope

Lately I’ve been studying and thinking about what it means to believe it is too late for Mother Earth to recover from the environmental damage we have done.

As a Quaker and person of faith I believe that God continues to be present in the world today. As a scientist, I’m convinced we are on the path to runaway global warming which humans will not survive. Perhaps there will yet be some miracle from God to avoid this, or perhaps that is not God’s plan.

My question now is how we can slow down the damage for the sake of our children. I still wonder why we refused to make choices fifty years ago that would have avoided environmental catastrophe. Because I fear that same refusal will keep us from grappling with this now.

I came across the following blog post that taught me something about hope. We should practice hope, and help others learn to practice hope so we can face hard truths, not only about environmental destruction, but so many other things as indicated below.

April 30, 2018 by Quinn Norton

People often mistake hope for a feeling, but it’s not. It’s a mental discipline, an attentional practice that you can learn. Like any such discipline, it’s work that takes time, which you fail at, succeed, improve, fail at again, and build over years inside yourself.

Hope isn’t just looking at the positive things in this world, or expecting the best. That’s a fragile kind of cheerfulness, something that breaks under the weight of a normal human life. To practice hope is to face hard truths, harder truths than you can face without the practice of hope. You can’t navigate dark places without a light, and hope is that light for humanity’s dark places. Hope lets you study environmental destruction, war, genocide, exploitative relations between peoples. It lets you look into the darkest parts of human history, and even the callous entropy of a universe hell bent on heat death no matter what we do. When you are disciplined in hope, you can face these things because you have learned to put them in context, you have learned to swallow joy and grief together, and wait for peace.

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