Introspection Life tips Society and Culture

Radical hope

June 17, 2020

I know things have been heavy over here at The Sara Beth Times lately. These are heavy times.

For the last year or so I’ve been struggling with stepping beyond the neutral, cheerful tone that worked so well in my newspaper column for all those years.

When COVID-19 hit, followed by the Black Lives Matter protests, I decided that I could not in good conscience sit on the sidelines while so many others were struggling.

Ultimately, I decided that there is a season for both. There are times when what we really need as a collective humanity is a calm, pleasant reminder of simple pleasures.

And there is a time to stand up, when staying calm and pleasant is akin to willful ignorance or complicit blind trust, that by staying silent we become a part of the problem.

Staying quiet would have been easier, less time and energy consuming, perhaps safer for my fledgling writing business.

But I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t go on living my life as though nothing had changed, while others were fighting battles that affect me and my family.

Speaking up was intimidating and scary.

But not nearly as scary as it must be for those directly suffering from all that is going on – people of color; the hundreds of thousands of good, decent law enforcement officers who have felt helpless within a broken system; doctors and nurses battling a pandemic; teachers and school administrators trying to figure out how to educate children from home; the sick; the grieving; the unemployed; and all the others whose worlds are currently turned upside down (or were never right-side-up to begin with).

The last two months have been challenging in so many ways, for all of us. Let’s be honest, the world is a mess. I’m left feeling kind of limp, unmotivated, anxious, and angry.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t go on like this.

For a little while there I forgot the hard lesson I must keep relearning – that I cannot and should not try to save the world all by myself. I find it hard to balance doing what’s right with maintaining stability and sanity for myself and my family.

I had to think really hard about what I can do, right now, to make a difference. As well as what I can’t.

I made masks and our family wears them when we go into stores or doctors’ offices. We social distance.

We howled in support of doctors and nurses.

We shop local as much as we can.

I can support local Black leaders who are working towards positive change.

I can actively learn as much as I can about the Black experience, as well as others who are different from me, and I can raise my children to do the same.

I can acknowledge all the benefits I’ve had in my life due to my white skin.

I can do my own research, and not blindly trust the media on either extreme of this complicated issue.

I can vote.

I can step way outside my comfort zone and take a stand on my blog and social media. I have so many mixed feelings about this. I prayed about it so hard.

I have little patience for politics, on social media or otherwise. But ultimately, I decided this is not a political issue. This is a human issue, and I would not be able to live with myself if I said nothing.

I will continue to help as I can.

But I also need to live my life. No good will come from me feeling guilty for my blessings, and I do not. Instead, I choose to count them.

I need to remember that there are beautiful events to celebrate, incredible people doing amazing things, and hidden treasures in even the most difficult circumstances.

I recently heard the term “radical hope” in a sermon, and I knew that yes, this is exactly what we need.

We are so quick to feel the negative emotions radically.

I can worry monumentally. People can be so overcome with rage that they harm those around them. Fear distracts us from all rational thought.

Yet we feel only glimpses of joy, fleeting moments of bliss. We accept gratitude only begrudgingly, and so often take love for granted.

We must hope that the world will be better someday.

We must hope for a cure to this horrific disease that plagues us.

We must hope for peace, for understanding among people with vastly different life experiences.

We must hope that love will win.

Life will unfold regardless of whether we hope or not.

But if we give up hoping, we will give up trying to make things better. We will sink into hate, despair, resigned acceptance, or indifference. These are the things that brought us to this place.

We simply cannot go on like this. If we don’t change direction, we will self-destruct.  

Radical hope

Today, I make a conscious choice to hope radically, to feel to the very tips of my toes that all this suffering, all this conflict, all this rage and misunderstanding among us, will ultimately bring us to new levels of insight and wisdom.

I must believe that peace is possible, as long as we keep hoping.

When hope is lost, we stop trying to change things.

This too shall pass. And when it does, I must believe that we will be better.

Copyright © 2020 Sara Beth Wald

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