“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.”
— Václav Havel, Disturbing the Peace
I’m glad I arrived at that understanding yesterday: that the earth has tremendous powers of regeneration, that the universe is not random, that the arc of evolution bends toward consciousness, compassion and justice. These are things I know. They are like bedrock, and stop me when I start to slide down. The thing that’s missing is any sense that I am loved for myself.
To have something to stand on, to have something to lean against. Even with that, I still feel bereft of human companionship which is the wound of trauma in infancy. At least I don’t feel like I am going to slide down into major depression. I do feel like I can hold on to my values and my vision, through whatever disasters are coming in the future. I wish I could say with Etty that life is beautiful. I can still occasionally, or in tiny flashes, see the beauty of nature, and I know it’s there even when I can’t enjoy it. The ability to enjoy is destroyed by depressive brain chemistry, appreciation can be done by will. I know that life is meaningful because the universe is not random. I don’t know how my life is meaningful, but I know that it is in that huge context.
So that is my certainty that “things make sense.” That doesn’t mean that I expect that everything’s going to be all right, especially for myself. Nevertheless, I can still take a stand for the things I value — peace, love, justice, mercy, truth, hope — and hold my vision for my country (courtesy of Bernie) where everyone has medical coverage as a right, there is paid medical and family leave, colleges and universities are tuition free. We can lead the world in transforming our energy system and combating climate change, break up the large financial institutions, and demand that the wealthy start paying their fair share of taxes.
I do not expect this to come true in my lifetime. I do think that the unsustainable way we are living will soon collapse, and I don’t know how many of us will survive. I doubt very much that I will. I’m 74 years old, not terribly robust, and dependent on medication. I do know that somewhere in the future, people will learn how to live in a way that works for all, that we will understand that the earth is sacred, and treat her that way.