All posts tagged: Hope

Hope Demands Things That Despair Does Not

In her essay “False Hope and Easy Despair,” historian and author Rebecca Solnit speaks to how hope requires action. “Hope” she quotes author Ernst Bloch, “is in love with success rather than failure.” That seems obvious, but Solnit drives home her point by noting that failure and marginalization are safe. Despair has many causes and varieties.  Denying one’s power and possibility allows us to “shake off” our sense of obligation. We can make our point too easily when the point becomes “the demonstration of one’s own virtue rather than the realization of results.” On the other hand, “Hopefulness is risky, since it is after all a form of trust, trust in the unknown and the possible, even in discontinuity.  To be hopeful is to take on a different persona, one that risks disappointment, betrayal…” I have spent recent weeks studying strategic plans, business models, trends in nonprofit organizations, and other materials that look backward to history to make sense of what’s ahead. They begin by looking backward because, as I’ve said earlier, hope is grounded …

The Priorities in Life

I have read two books recently where I could simply and honestly say, “You should read this.”  The second of the two, which I finished reading Saturday morning, seemed to be the appropriate one where I should sit down and capture my thoughts immediately. When Breath Becomes Air by Dr. Paul Kalanithi has been on the New York Times Bestseller list and was a top book of 2016 on many lists.  There’s a reason.  This is a book where, as the Times reviewer noted, “Finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option.” Paul Kalanithi was a neurosurgeon and writer who – at age 36 and near the end of residency training at Stanford – was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.  This memoir is his look at confronting death with all the knowledge of a top-trained doctor and all the uncertainty of a human being who imagined a whole life of promise in front of him. Kalanithi studied English literature, human biology and philosophy before turning to a decade of …

Hope is Grounded in Memory

Last Saturday marked my 20th anniversary at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For the past few days, I’ve been thinking about hope in the context of life’s milestones.  Not a greeting card kind of hope or optimism, but “hope that’s kind of gritty…the kind,” as described by songwriter and author Carrie Newcomer, “that gets up every morning and chooses to try to make the world just a little kinder (or better) in your own way.” The thought that “hope is grounded in memory” has influenced the work of  another writer I admire, Rebecca Solnit. In a recent interview, she notes that “We think of hope as looking forward, but…(if) you study history deeply, you realize that, to quote Patti Smith, ‘people have the power’….(P)eople have often taken on things that seemed hopeless — freeing the slaves, getting women the vote — and achieved those things.”  Knowing history gives me hope. To be fair, hope is hard.  Cynicism – where I have gone on occasion – is easy. But in thinking about 20 years of …