I asked people to share an experience they’ve had this year that’s brought them hope. Here’s what they had to say.
Emma Durand: It seems like a simple thing, but I planted pots of herbs, tomatoes, and flowers on our apartment balcony. It surprised me how actually attached I got to those plants. I got excited by new tendrils and buds!
Mark Wilson: I work with high school and college-aged kids in a community program. They’re good at dismissing bs and thinking for themselves. I can assure you, this upcoming generation of young men and women are making this world a more connected and accepting place already.
Niki Weldon: My mom’s group gives me hope and strength. We relate, share, grieve, love, care, help, and generally create a village.
I hope we as a parenting society we can return to a time where we can watch out not only for our own kids but for each others’ kids in a way that lets us get to know our neighbors again. We all are going through life and can do something as simple as helping a stranger carry bags to their car since you only have one bag and they are about to drop their milk. I think maybe that is what is missing in our immediate society now. It is very much I, I, I, and not enough community. But my mommy group gives me hope that maybe we (as a society ) are coming full circle back to that. (She also shared a link.)
Bernie DeKoven: People playing playfully. Games, maybe, or rolling downhill or naming clouds or skipping. Whenever I see people playing – families, kids, adults of any age – I feel something very much like hope for humanity.
Loving, too. It does very much the same for me, restoring hope. Loving their pets, their kids, their world.
Kimerly Wagstaff: Every time I hear a child’s laughter; the words ‘thank-you,”I love you,’ ‘I’m sorry.’ Every sunrise and sunset…all these give me hope.
Charles Rogers: My daughter-in-law and son’s Christmas gift was a sonogram of a 9 week fetus!
Tobias Whitaker: I think it is all around. It is easy to find yourself sidetracked by a very small but vocal minority that has dictated the American (global) consciousness because of the narrow scope of the media. But I have found that I get along very well with my neighbors even though we may have some very different views politically and philosophically. I think that when you talk face to face about what you have in common all the other nonsense drifts away. You may be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t, how many people in my neighborhood stop by to chat with my children while they are walking their dogs or out for a stroll. How many people want to talk gardening or engage in friendly chatter when we both know that if we compared notes on religion or government we would be on opposite ends of one another. But we respect one another and that gives me hope.
With that said I find hope and inspiration in my children’s laughter, they remind me to be present, that this particular moment is what matters most. I find it in the resurgence of wildlife around my home, for example in the 40+ years I have lived in my town I only began seeing bald eagles about 5 years ago, somewhat regularly. I find it in the people (right-wing and left-wing) embracing traditional agriculture in a hot zone for natural gas extraction. There is hope in the endless opportunity of the internet to communicate with and influence people of good intention. There is hope simply in the fact that conversations such as this exist!
Though I am very realistic about the urgency of some issues I do believe truth has awakened. I believe, personally, that is why the toxic members of our global society have gotten so vocal. They see their ability to manipulate slipping away.
Martha Eaton: The fact that the Ohio state board of education is rethinking the number of standardized tests given to children attending public schools. While the early changes are far from substantial, this discussion gives me hope that teachers will be allowed to make instructional decisions based on developmental characteristics instead of what is going to be on the test.
Kevin Vincent: One refugee child was safe somewhere in our world. My hope is that our hearts will have empathy for the little ones.
Ali Baylor: I am an ecotherapist/nature educator in Florida. Our farm is closed over the holidays, so our weekly homeschool kids have to miss out on a few weeks of nature classes. One mom told me what her child said a few days before Christmas, “Mom, I can’t wait for the holidays to be over so we can go back to Ms. Ali’s farm!” Wow. Nature (1); Santa (0)! There ARE families rearing their children to be conscious.
Ann Krier: Watching my son attempting to diaper his one year old. I almost did not give birth to him, but that’s a story for another day.
The FBI has made animal abuse a federal offense.
Because of cell phones (which I usually hate) police abuse has been filmed and, slowly, I truly believe the system will change.
A socialist is running for the Democratic nomination and doing really well. He might get it. Who would have thought?
Lauren Seaver: Gathering with a tribe of other unschooling families for a weekly potluck always feeds my soul. In addition, spending every morning with an amazing group of 3, 4 & 5 year olds at our pre-k co-op is the most heart-lifting part of my day.
Amy Chan I’ve been having a rough time this year due to losing my job on top of getting a divorce. You know what brings me hope? A two-year-old mixed breed dog I adopted from the shelter this year. He gets me out to the dog park in just about any weather, gives me a reason to talk to people, and teaches me to live with enthusiasm. Now I see what unconditional love really is.
Leslie Boomer: Because we have a Savior I have hope. Every day.
Bob Montgomery: Life without hope is death, a living death. Living a life of service as inspired by Jesus cements that hope.
Saraswati Namaste: My trip to India where I was shown/taught the oneness of all & to actively love the world despite (assorted dreadfulnesses go here). And learning the lightness of simplicity. And biggest of all, that there are millions of souls around the world doing wondrous things for others in big and small ways, leading quiet but wholly dedicated lives of profound service. Every day 24/7 for decades. The pebble in the pond inspiring others to emulate them. As that desire to serve, to make love manifest in the world, continues its relentless, outward expansion love will triumph.
Bill and Kathy Johnston: We have never, ever been more hopeful. Here’s why. This autumn we, along with several other people, started an interfaith dialogue group. We sent invitations to every single house of faith in our city (and followed up with phone calls to a mosque, synagogue, and Zen center in hopes of real diversity). The invitations basically explained that each month we’d be reading a work that could help us more deeply understand different faith traditions, then we’d be getting together to discuss it. The local paper picked up the story before our first meeting in September and the response has been exceptional. So far we have read passages by Christian theologian Frederick Buechner, Sufi mystic Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, and Buddhist nun Pema Chodron.
We urge you to give this a go where you live. Here are the basics. Arrange to have monthly meetings in a library room (a safe, non-denominational place that’s also, at least where we live, free). Set up ground rules about respectful discussions. Email an article by the author (solicit suggestions from the group for upcoming reads). We also send around a sign-up sheet asking people to bring snacks and we provide coffee, tea, and water. There’s a reason for the food; it gets people to stand around talking to one another and those developing friendships are, in essence, one of the biggest reasons for doing this.
Amalie K.: In March I was pushing a shopping cart full of stuff out of Target when I fell in the parking lot. I was in excruciating pain, but the worst thing was that my three-year-old was sitting in the cart panicking because her mama was writhing on the ground.
Instantly, and I mean instantly, people rushed over to help me. A man took off his coat and laid it over me to keep me from going into shock, then he knelt on the slushy cement holding my hand. A woman held my daughter, reassuring me she would stay right there and keep her safe. Someone called an ambulance. Another person loaded my shopping bags in my car. The medics made sure they didn’t alarm my daughter with anything they were doing and were kind enough to wait to leave for the hospital until my mother got there to pick her up. My hip may have broken but my fears about strangers healed that day.
Michelle Wilbert: My hope is always maintained and often increased by the sheer beauty and goodness that prevails in spite of all that seems to work against both. In some respects, it isn’t surprising that humans are sometimes bent towards evil. What is remarkable and stunning to contemplate is the fact of goodness; we, who can get away with everything from a poor showing in every human interaction or the most insipid mediocrity do, on a regular basis, conform to the highest reaches of goodness and light, giving to, sharing with, doing for our fellows great good out of a simple, human sense of kindness and fair play–we perform the everyday miracles of generosity of spirit that allows for continued hope–“the thing with feathers” to quote Emily Dickinson– to live in our hearts and animate our actions, giving us the strength to press on.