We earmarked January to publish this blog about hope (below). Then Keir Starmer launched Labour’s election campaign, using the title Project Hope. If hope is to become an election buzzword in 2024, we believe it’s vital to keep defining it as something more than a political soundbite – something that signifies a desire for and belief in the possibility of real change and radically better ways of doing things.
Another year has begun with the world creaking under the weight of war and accelerating climate change. So how do we harness the power and potential of hope?
As a lifelong ‘activist’ in one way or another, I have often reflected on the role of hope in bringing about change. It is the fuel of activism and its absence is the catalyst for surrender. The question ‘what kind of ancestor do you want to be?’ is a powerful statement of hope that there will be a future and it can be improved by our actions today.
I watch our courageous brothers and sisters barricading themselves to banks, blockading roads and interrupting public events in an attempt to wake the national consciousness to the need for drastic climate action, and I am overwhelmed by their commitment to the hope that we can and will turn this around. Their number includes a childhood friend of my parents, now in his 90s, through to my own children’s contemporaries. There is no geographic, age, social or ethnic barrier to acting with hope.
Yet lifelong hope, in the face of so much wider inaction can be an exhausting choice to make. As Christiana Figueres put it:
‘Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by grief and paralysed by my emotions. Other times I feel anger and get hijacked by my emotions, wanting to strike out in react mode. But in the best of days, I use my pain and anger to anchor myself into the root of my emotions, transforming them into a deep commitment to act out of strength, love and expectant joy, co-creating the better world we all want for our children and their descendants.’
Christiana Figueres, Diplomat and Climate Negotiator, Costa Rica
So how do we build, harness and retain hope over time?
Firstly we do it because we must. At each end of that age spectrum I describe above, there is an urgent need for hope. There is an epidemic of mental illness – particularly among young people – who have grown up in a world hurtling headlong into climate catastrophe and obsessed with judging worth and success via the accumulation of material things. At the other end of the spectrum, those of us who have been fighting for a different future for decades are increasingly struggling with overwhelm, overreach and at risk of being overcome.
Part of the task we collectively face to tackle the urgent challenges of our time, is to actively generate hope. If it is the driver of progress then we need to be creative in our production of it at scale. Here I have gathered together a few suggested routes to doing this through 2024 and beyond, with the help of some powerful quotes from some of the BBC’s 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2023
- Share more of our successes, large and small so others can learn from our struggles and build our small steps into larger strides
‘There is too much to do for anyone to achieve things alone, but people are working together and sharing knowledge. For my own small part, I know we can revive a vital habitat, protect it and restore it for all of the benefits it provides our planet and society.’
Leanne Cullen-Unsworth – Marine Scientist UK
- Championing, loudly and proudly, the brave souls quietly changing the world where they are day by day to recharge their batteries and inspire others to join them
- Learning every day from nature and its exceptional ability to demonstrate extraordinary resilience and adaptability. Start where we are and grow from there.
‘Our task is to do our best in the place and situation we are in. I adhere to the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible.’
Iryna Stavchuk – Climate Policy Advisor, Ukraine
- Focusing more on what brings us together and resist being drawn into the seemingly endless cycles of divide and conquer practised by those in power and on social media
- Perhaps most importantly coming together more to light each other’s fires of hope and grow our reservoirs of fuel for the work to come
- Balancing hope driven action and hope replenishing rest.
‘Even though climate change is an ‘all hands on deck’ situation, we just can’t do it all by ourselves. Activism is like a garden. It is seasonal. It rests. Respect the season you are in.’
Sarah Ott – Schoolteacher, USA
So as we take these first strides into a new year, let us hold on to and actively generate hope to fuel us in our work to build a new and far better economy.
‘I have confidence in the direction we’ve set… I’m not discouraged by the length of time. I see the vitality of the concepts… how they light up the young people who come to work with us… This is work that can transform the whole economic system to one that is more just… more ecologically responsible. A vision that gives hope in a time of crisis.’
Susan Witt – Pioneer in the Community Land Trust Movement
Liz Zeidler, CEO
If you’d like practical support to help shift your organisation, community or region to a Wellbeing Economy approach, CTP is here to help. Get in touch at email@example.com