Saturday, 5 April 2014

A small (and I mean small) word on Hope

(pic from

I am always in 2 minds about everything.  Able to see others views, losing my own.  Finding both sides of arguments compelling, second guessing myself.  I read a quote in an interview the other day that was on the subject of one of the things that worries me the most: the future of the planet.  

I’m very optimistic and I’m very pessimistic about the future. I have spent years trying to decide which of these feelings is the right one, but I have come to the conclusion that there are certain questions that naturally evoke an ambivalent response, and that rather than trying to reject one in favour of the other, I need to accept both. 

On the one hand I see the global awakening that is occurring, the thousands of fantastic projects that are being born (Paul Hawken in ‘Blessed Unrest’ is good on this), and the incredible new inventions that suggest we really can turn things around. And on the other hand I see the mass extinction of species that is occurring, I see war, starvation and the destruction of the Earth continuing unabated, and I can see nothing but a bleak future for our grandchildren. 

Somehow I have to hold both those feelings in my mind, for to focus only on the positive seems like naïve denial, and to focus only on the negative is just a recipe for unhappiness and renders me less able to be of any use in the world. 

This quote is from Phillip Carr-Gomm, leader of OBOD (which I've mentioned before in several previous posts on Druidry and herbalism), and you can read the full context here. His blog has many interesting short posts, and the link given contains another link to a much fuller interview on the subject of 'the future', worth reading.  You can read his psychological training coming through when he talks, not only his spiritual ideals.  I always find him an interesting author.

But its one of many things I've been reading, hearing and thinking about lately that are making me think that I need to be able to hold arguments in tension more - there may well be a Right and Wrong to everything, but its not always possible to only participate in the simple right answer (or the wrong, depends where you are).  

For example, there's no point making myself horrifically sad because of so many things I buy being born out of bad economies that hurt their own people.  I can't always AFFORD to buy The 'Righteous' Option!  I have to forgive myself some things and do what I can, when I can.  About so many things that worry, bother, upset and make me feel guilty.  A happy and more pleasurable life - and obviously, more productive - will ensue from learning to give myself a break more often.  A slight less moody BlackberryJuniper?   

The quote answers that cynical part of myself that says any peace or happiness is born simply out of delusion, or the suffering of others which I am choosing to ignore; whilst acknowledging that if I swim only with the sadness (however true or not) – I will be unable to do a damn thing to stop it or change anything: I will paralyze myself.  Useless.  And I know my joy in trees, flowers, animals, books, films, sewing, cooking, cats – and even certain people (!), is completely real when I feel it…and I read so many good developments occurring within the communities of my scientifically minded friends alone, that make me feel very much more optimistic when I imagine their application in the world, soon...

Anyway - it was a very simple quote, a very simple thought.  You might all have got here already, to the not torturing yourself on a daily basis and learning to hold optimism and pessimism (and by extension satisfaction vs. guilt) together without beating yourselves up about it.  But I haven't really come to grips with this, until now.  

It seems valuable.  Hopeful.  So I thought I’d mention it.

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