On being hopeful…


Spring is the season of hope and I keep running across interesting articles that are hope-related. You would imagine that I am referring to uplifting and happy articles, but these are not. In fact the second article is depressing, just so you know.

Yesterday in the NY Times Simon Critchley wrote an op-ed piece, Abandon (Nearly) All Hope. It requires a certain amount of focus even though it is a short read. I was tired when I read it so had to concentrate more than I normally do when eating my granola. The upshot is that dewy-eyed hope can be harmful. For example, when we elect someone who promises things we that know are not remotely possible, why do we let the hope that ‘this time will be different’ allow us to believe in the impossible? This is true not just in politics, but in everyday life. There is a lot to be said for realistic hopefulness.

In the Times Sunday Magazine was another, longer article: It’s The End of the World As We Know It… and He Feels Fine. It is about Paul Kingsnorth, a long-time environmental activist and novelist who has given up activism—not because he doesn’t believe in climate change, but rather, he doesn’t see the human race changing in time to avert disaster. This is not a happy article.

I’ve been mulling over the ideas presented in these two articles and how well they dovetail. I am married to a scientist and I do believe that we are altering our planet, and not for the better. I would happily do my bit to change things but real change requires a collective will to make changes that none of are going to like. For one thing, it’s going to be expensive. And I live in the South… should I give up air conditioning? I would if everyone else did but I look around and I don’t believe that many of my fellow Texans would willingly sweat through our summers. What to do?

This brings me back to hope. I am an optimist by nature. I am hopeful that somehow, we’ll muddle through. I am not sure that this is a realistic hope and I can understand Mr. Kingsnorth’s point of view, but I am not going to live my life constantly depressed. Instead, today I planted flower seeds in the bare areas of my yard. (Luckily there aren’t many bare areas.) I did change the sprinkler system this year to drip irrigation. I can water less and less water will be lost to evaporation.


I’m going to enjoy this beautiful Spring  and I hope for many more. I am going to try to be willing to make hard changes when the time comes. I am going to be happy—and I hope that you will be too.


PS: My stacked rocks are beginning to resemble something (Jabba-the-Hut?) with two large front teeth. I may need to do something about that…