Hope is a simple, yet incredibly complex idea with many layers and intricacies. When initially reflecting upon the meaning and importance of hope, I asked myself, “what is hope? How does one maintain hope and how can I inspire others to have hope as well?” Though I cannot speak for everyone, the answers found within myself provided some much-needed clarity about the work I do with environmental advocacy and why it is important to continue striving for change.
To answer the first question, I attempted to define this value as, “intentional optimism, trust that things will get better and having faith in your own abilities to make it happen.” Although, I can still see elements of truth within this, this definition seems to be missing one key component: community. Hope isn’t something that just happens to you. Rather, you must choose to see the bright side of situations, seek solutions, and trust in the abilities of yourself and your community.
Reflecting upon my own experience with hope, I was immediately reminded of the rollercoaster of emotions that come with the territory of fighting for a greener planet. Within this movement – or any other activist movement, really –fatalism can be catastrophic to inspiring change. Losing all belief in the future because things haven’t improved in the past nor in the present, can stop these movements in their tracks and take away the power of the individual and the collective.
To combat this within myself, I channel my climate-anxiety and passion for nature through art. Through creating tangible connections to the environment around me and concerns for the ecosystems of the world, I have been able to break through stagnation and have felt inspired that change can be made. Seeing other artists do the same has also fostered a hope that through art and culture, moves can be made to create a healthier, greener planet.
For the final question, “how can I inspire others to have hope as well”, I believe that the best way to inspire hope is through these three things:
1- Create or join a community of action.
If you want to unite people around a common goal, whether it be a global endeavor or within an organization, you must first inspire them to believe in the dream and have hope that it will happen. For instance, in my work around environmental advocacy and art, when I started to create spaces for climate artists to show and raise awareness about the causes they were passionate about, many of the comments received became a lot more positive, energized and focused on the things that they could “do”. By helping to develop a community of artists for change (The Natural Resonance Festival), not only was my own hope boosted by every glimpse of creative ingenuity, I believe that seeing a community of like-minded peers can help everyone feel like their actions matter and are making a difference. The beauty of a community of creativity is that these ideas ripple far beyond the catalyst that started it all.
2- Trust that things will get better
It all comes down to trust; Trust that things will get better; Trust in your own abilities; And trust that the world will sort itself out through the actions of a united community. However, you won’t build this trust until you get started. Change is inspired through action.
By being a changemaker and choosing to live in a space of hope, this type of positive thinking has a tendency to ripple outwards and spread hope far beyond the initial circle of change agents. If you want to increase hope and possibility in the world, begin with what inspires you. What actions can YOU take to make a difference in your cause?
After having spent a good amount of time with this value, I feel like I understand hope better. Hope is that spark within ourselves that exists against all odds. It challenges the cynicism of the world and encourages us to ask, “what if” - “what if things got better and what if I am someone who could make a difference?” It is this tenacious hope for change that incites positive action and has the power to make great shifts in the world.