We are still in the throes of a time marked by fear of illness or poverty for many. Some of us are fighting for their health or coming to terms with the death of someone close. While going through these testing times together as humans, we need strategies of hope.
Lament and despondency do not lead us forward. Neither will faith in the future be inspired by governance that increasingly appears like an over-medicalized coup d’état. Fear, panic and anxiety – like a veldfire – tend to spread rapidly, fanned daily by updates and pandemic talk of an invisible global ennemy. Strategies of hope do the opposite from the soul-destroying fear-mongering. Giving in to fear is giving up on the future.
What do we have within our sphere of influence to help create positive avenues that motivate us to journey into the future? Everyone’s radius of influence is different, but everyone’s is equally valuable.
In my Facebook network, several women have been sharing the hopes and expectations they felt during their pregnancy. Their babies – as if they had a secret conspiracy to bring joy to the world in dire times – have all been born in a sequence of weeks during May and June! Each announcement of the big moment of birth has been honoured and virtually shared in lockdown. Yet the heartfelt ‘Welcome to our family!’ almost shouted of the screens. These babies opened many hearts to welcome new life, to let hope in and to inspire dreams for the future. The shared joy overruled anxiety and scenarios of doom.
Yesterday a dear friend, who is battling to rise out of a deep depression, posted a photo of herself as a child. I commented on the beauty of this vintage framed image of her as a 4-year old. She replied: ‘I have been so strict with myself and thought it is time to do something to honour who I am.’ This initiative, emerging from a painful depression, is a strategy of hope. One that takes place in the intimate sphere of private life and close circle of friends. Everyone who cares about this person’s situation feels uplifted with hope for her recovery.
The smallest gestures can generate hope. Someone waving to you from their car window, driving past in the traffic: ‘Hey, I noticed you!’ It instantly picks you up from feeling lonely that day. Someone giving you a thumbs-up after you’ve hosted a difficult zoom discussion… It makes you feel the effort is worth it. A surge of ‘Bring it on!’ for the next task to tackle.
On a larger scale, at the reopening of their business sector several business owners share their zest for making it happen. ‘I know it is a hard economy that we are up against, but I am not going to let my workers down. They all have their families to look after’. This is an attitude going beyond one’s own survival. Dear bosses, it will pay off because your workers sense you are not driving them to exploit but to empower them! This is a strategy of hope.
Strategies of hope acknowledge both our vulnerability and our resilience – twinning those two qualities is the formula for empowering our humanness.
There was a fashion trend for a few years that used the calligraphed message ‘C A L M’ on every poster, coffee mug and in every advertisement slogan. How odd… Did you also notice that the word was always printed with a crown on it to accentuate the word? A crown, a corona! Odd to think about this in corona times. Where is C A L M now when we need it? If you still have that mug or that apron, re-install it in your kitchen.
To me, the message of calm holds even more power now. Now we must all learn to not be deterred by anxiety – our own or that of others.
It certainly is a strategy of hope to try and be the calming influence today. It is not easy when we are stressed by balancing working at home with living at home – or returning to an understaffed busy workplace. Negotiating crowded taxis or trains, as many workers have to, is not a reassuring source of calm.
We don’t have to be masters of calm from the 1st try, but it is worthwhile persevering. It is a learning curve, one step at a time. Baby-steps. Taking that deep calming breath. Sharing with others that we are all challenged to manage fear. Sharing our humanness always kindles hope and boosts strength.
What matters in strategizing for hope is that we are there for each other when and where and in whichever way we can.