RADICAL HOPE

To be truly radical is to make hope possible rather than despair convincing.
— Raymond Williams

At a time when the tyranny of cynicism and indifference seems so pervasive, to hope is a radical act. It is an act of defiance.


Hope is not wishing thinking. It demands work, a lot of work, a lot of hard work.


Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy makes the distinction between passive hope and active hope. Passive hope is about waiting for external agencies to bring about what we want. Active hope is a practice. It is something we do rather than have. Active Hope is about becoming practitioners. It doesn’t require optimism. Intention is the guiding impetus that provides focus and direction. Rather than proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus on our intention and let it be our guide.


Radical hope is an adventure. You became an explorer as it dares you to:

  • Imagine possibilities
  • Take action
  • Take risks
  • Trust yourself
  • Trust others
  • Embrace uncertainties and ambiguities
  • Tell different stories of our present and future


Hope (and love) fuels the passion of many change-makers. Radical hope is a refusal to accept injustice and the status quo. In "The Cure at Troy," Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney retells Sophocles' Philoctetes and explores the themes of personal integrity and political expediency. These lines below speak of the determination of radical hope that is at the heart of social change work.

Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.


 

Robyn Lui, Ph.D.
Founder & Principal Strategist at
Social Change Collective & general mischief-maker.
Mission: championing good people to achieve
great things that benefit people and the planet.

Robyn Lui, Ph.D.

Founder & Principal Strategist at Social Change Collective & general mischief-maker. Mission: championing good people to achieve great things that benefit people and the planet.

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