30 June 2013

"A Torrent of Hope"

This has to be a short post as I'm in the midst of an environmental education and communication conference. My days are filled with speeches, workshops, meals and networking, and I'm knackered (aka, very tired).

The keynote speaker at tonight's banquet is well known as an academic sort who specializes in hope. At the end of her talk, she told us that what she wants to create is a "torrent of hope" and she asked us to think about and then share what gives us hope. A couple of people responded, and then she posed the question again (she wasn't getting that "torrent" she was hoping for because we were all busy digesting our dinners). 

Just as she finished asking again ("What is it that gives you hope?"), a small child in the audience called out for his father: "Daddy?!"

It was the perfect (accidental) response — but I'm not sure the keynote speaker got it. It's the mommies and the daddies doing the good climate change work that will provide hope for the children. 

Is hope not just another EuroAmerican luxury? Isn't it something we have to earn? Do we have the right to hope (the noun) if we haven't earned it — by doing everything we can do to move us to zero carbon? (Someone else this weekend said we shouldn't use negative terminology — so shall I say "100% perpetual energy" instead?) 

If we haven't even been impacted by climate chaos yet, what right do we have to usurp "hope"? Isn't that another form of denial and inaction? Shouldn't we just roll up our sleeves (to disagree for the first time ever with David Orr) and let our action on climate change lead to hope? Especially for those already impacted?

And maybe this is simply a semantic argument, but hoping (the verb) doesn't even get us as far as praying does!

Blah blah hope blah blah blah hope blah blah blah hope. I'm going to put on my own conference — and I'm not going to allow anyone to talk about hope. ;-) 

In fact, maybe we won't talk at all. No hopin', no talkin'. Just action. It is, literally, our only hope.

(Please, if you can convince me that hope really, truly does have the power to "save the world," I'd love to hear your reasoning. Because so far, it's not working. By the way, I do see a role for hope (I've heard there's a part of the brain that shuts down if it cannot conceive of a positive future), but then we're moving past hope to envisioning and creating. So again, it's the work that leads to hope, not the other way around.)

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?