So, I recognize that it’s a dark time right now. Bad things are happening – things that seem very, very hard to undo, and that we are powerless to prevent. I’m not immune: In quiet moments, I’ve found myself staring at my hands, feeling helpless. What do we do at times like these?
Hope and optimism are not synonyms. … Rather I say that the decision to hope
is the decision to place one’s hands on the boulder and push it forward, in the knowledge that on other hills, in other places, similar hands are working in concert.
There is hope that arises in and of itself from the decision to wake, the decision to work, the decision to write, the decision to speak. With our hands pressed to the clay of duty— a citizen’s duty to shape their country, to fight back against the ways it errs, and to create small increments of justice through that work—we strain against the weight together and it lessens.
Here’s the truth: None of us were born into a world that makes sense. Every single person who has ever lived looked around and saw a world that was fucked up beyond belief. “Holy shit, why the fuck are things organized this way?” they cried. “This has to change!” And so they set about trying to heave the giant boulder, trying to make their little corner of the world just a little bit better than it was the day before. And then, one day, in the middle of doing that, they died. That’s it. The cumulative efforts of billions of people doing exactly that is what built the marginally better world we have today. No overseeing God or Founder or Great Designer did it; we did, one by one, through tiny efforts that seemed so minuscule as to be pointless, but which, added together, shifted the boulder just a little bit.
The world their efforts created is one that is, still, massively fucked up. And the boulder has slid back many times; it is sliding back now. But each of us has that same choice, to wake up tomorrow and make the day a little better than it was yesterday. And we can do that regardless of what happens: no one can ever take that choice away from us.
Does this perspective make me feel better? I’m not sure. But it has helped me figure out what I’m going to do tomorrow. I hope it helps you too. If it does, let me know.