Tuesday, December 31, 2019
written 22 December 2019
published 29 December 2019
At this time of the return of the light, the world seems fraught, and compassionate people despair. We unsuccessfully look for "reasons" for this despair in our immediate experience, but need to open to the larger world to really get to the roots.
For decades, Joanna Macy, eco-philosopher and Buddhist scholar, has presented the idea that the despair we feel is due to our fundamental connection with the planet, experiencing the grief of the sixth mass extinction of life. "Active Hope", by Macy and Chris Johnstone, excerpted here, explores how to process that despair effectively.
"The word hope has two different meanings. The first (passive hope) involves hopefulness, where our preferred outcome seems reasonably likely to happen. If we require this kind of hope before we commit ourselves to an action, our response gets blocked in areas we don't rate our chances too high, with no point in even trying to do anything."
"The second meaning (Active Hope) is about desire, what would we like to have happen in the world, the kind of world we long for so much it hurts. It is this second kind of hope that starts our journey, knowing what we hope for and what we'd like, or love, to take place. It is what we do with this hope that really makes a difference. Passive hope is about waiting for external agencies to bring about what we desire. Active Hope is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for."
"Active Hope is a practice, something we do rather than have, which we can apply to any situation, and involves three key steps. First, we take a clear view of reality; second, we identify what we hope for in terms of the direction we would like things to move in or values we'd like to see expressed; and third, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction."
"Since Active Hope doesn't require our optimism, we can apply it even in areas where we feel hopeless. The guiding impetus is intention; we choosewhat we aim to bring about, act for, or express. Rather than weighing our chances and proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus our intention and let it be our guide."
"We can react to world crisis by rising to the occasion with wisdom, courage, and care, or we can shrink from the challenge, blot it out, or look away. When we choose to draw out our best responses, we might even surprise ourselves by what we bring forth. We can train ourselves to become more courageous, inspired, and connected."
"The spiral of The Work That Reconnects (see also "Coming Back To Life" with Molly Young Brown) reminds us that we are larger, stronger, deeper, and more creative than we have been brought up to believe. It maps out an empowerment process through four successive movements or stations; Coming from Gratitude, Honoring Our Pain for the World, Seeing with New Eyes, and Going Forth."
"Coming from Gratitude, we become more present to the wonder of being alive in this amazing world, to the gifts we receive, to the beauty we appreciate. Yet the very act of looking at what we love in our world brings awareness of the vast violation under way, and we naturally flow to honoring our pain for the world."
"Admitting the depth of our anguish, Honoring Our Pain, we break the taboos that silence our distress. Our pain for the world not only alerts us to the danger but also revels our profound caring, derived from our interconnectedness with all life, a healthy expression of our belonging to life."
"Seeing with New Eyes reveals the wider web of resources within a deeper ecological self, with ancient spiritual wisdom and creative imagination, opening us to new views of what is possible and new understanding of our power to make a difference."
"Going Forth involves clarifying our vision of how we act for the healing of our world, identifying practical steps that move our vision forward."
We live in powerful times, when every aspect of what we have known is now challenged to grow and change. In the New Year, my active hope for everyone is: Gratitude, Love, and Global Awakening.