Potent Hope

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Tom Atlee:

"From what I can tell, most people think that hope is a kind of wishing that things will turn out ok: "I hope Pat likes me!" "I hope the brakes hold!" In some varieties of hope, there is also a bit of (optimistic) belief that things WILL turn out ok, usually expressed as "having" or "getting" hope: "I have a lot of hope in this new president. S/he gives me a lot of hope."

Again, I find myself indulging in both of these forms of hope but, again, they feel passive, so I call them "passive hope". When I lose them - when I become sad, disappointed, or disillusioned - that's when the word "hopeless" feels real to me. But it, too, is passive.

In contrast, there seems to be a whole different kind of hope - a realm of hopefulness I call "potent hope". Potent hope, too, has many forms but all of them are active, intentional, and grounded in the positive potential we can observe in people and the world. People with potent hope don't claim to know what will happen, but they do claim good reason to take action, to move with the positive forces in and around them.

And what I've noticed is that when I find myself losing whatever form of potent hope I've had, I slide into passive hopelessness, because there is no potent form of hopelessness. But potent hope is addictive, so I usually soon find myself seeking another form of potent hope that is authentic for me in my new state and, with its help, I find myself rising to the occasion again.

Potent hope, rising from within us, is usually animated by energy and faith that come from sources like these:

▪ commitment or confidence in ourselves ("We can do it!"), ▪ caring ("Future generations matter so much to me!"), ▪ passion and vision ("I just love life and our vision of what's possible!"), ▪ principled non-attachment ("The outcome matters less than the rightness of what we do!"), ▪ seeing the perfection or potential in difficulties ("This crisis is an opportunity!"), ▪ connecting to the power of predecessors ("Look at what's been done before!"), ▪ shifting to a higher, deeper, longer perspective ("There's something bigger going on here that we're part of...!"), ▪ the intrinsic joy of doing ("I love what I do, no matter what happens!"), ▪ simple choice ("I choose positivity because it gives me an exciting, meaningful life!") or even ▪ grit and determination ("I refuse to give up!").

All these perspectives provide energy and inspiration that help us remain engaged even in the face of immense disasters or obstacles. It is this kind of hope - this potent active hope - that gives the world its best chances, that sustains life, and that often makes our own lives meaningful and rich as we find ourselves rising to the challenge of our journey over and over." (http://tomatleeblog.com)

Miscellaneous Citations on Potent Hope

“The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”

― Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Fall of Atlantis

“There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.”

― Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968

“In a time of destruction, create something.”

― Maxine Hong Kingston

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

― Howard Zinn

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”

― Thomas Merton

“If we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment.”

― Henry David Thoreau

“It's the possibility that keeps me going, not the guarantee.”

― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

“Where there is no hope, it is incumbent on us to invent it.”

― Albert Camus

“Sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can fall together.”

― Jessica Howell

“Hope is not about proving anything. It's about choosing to believe this one thing, that love is bigger than any grim, bleak shit anyone can throw at us.”

― Anne Lamott, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

“Hope is a verb with its shirtsleeves rolled up.”

― David Orr

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability. Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them. Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

― Arundhati Roy, War Talk

"I choose to drown in hope. Rather than float into nothing.”

― Melina Marchetta, Finnikin of the Rock

“Those who make us believe that anything’s possible and fire our imagination over the long haul, are often the ones who have survived the bleakest of circumstances. The men and women who have every reason to despair, but don’t, may have the most to teach us, not only about how to hold true to our beliefs, but about how such a life can bring about seemingly impossible social change. ”

― Paul Rogat Loeb, The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.”

― John Lennon