So the 130th (or so) school shooting in the United States this year happened yesterday in Nashville. The water is Philly (where I’m going two weeks from today) got tainted by a chemical spill. Protests in Israel shut down planes, trains, buses, universities and more in a desperate attempt to keep democracy alive, while the USA TikTok ban (with a bill that enables the government to do this to any and all online communications) is on the verge of shutting down our connections as a society.
In the shadow of all that upheaval, I curl up in a hammock in the woods on the 40-acre homestead where I am WWOOFing with a book named Active Hope.
First published in 2012 and recently revised, this book is needed now more than ever. The subtitle How to Face the Mess We’re In with Unexpected Resilience and Power shows great promise.
Fearing something trite or hackneyed, I am pleasantly surprised to find fresh, provocative insight. I start underlining right away. The greatest danger of our times is the deadening of our response. A four-stage spiral and multiple ways into the theories proposed to un-deaden us offer pathways for everyone, or at least me in the hammock.
This book was recommended by one of the farmers with whom I’ll be staying later during my Round America with a Duck journey. It is the perfect companion for this trip (along with Disco Duck and his little side duck). Perhaps step 1 in moving forward is awakening our senses, and sure, enough, farms do that. Meeting strangers and starting to care about them as friends does that. Challenging ourselves to experience the world differently does that.
I am in search of hope and heroes throughout this journey, but sometimes, especially lately, my own hope about our collective future feels like it’s fading.
This book is a reminder that hope is not a feeling but a practice that includes an ongoing spiral of gratitude, honoring our pain, seeing with new eyes, and going forth with measurable action. So today, as our country and world seems to be spiraling out of control, I will try to spiral forward.
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