photo by Chiew Loo on Flickr

I had purchased a book from a noted environmental writer recently, thinking that it would provide inspiration in these challenging times, but the book is really full of anger and rage at the state of the world.  It’s important to allow our anger to inspire and motivate us to work for change, but there is a fine line between the anger that fires up our inspiration and the rage that debilitates us into helplessness.  So instead I went hunting for something that would help us to find that line and I came across this passage from astrologer Rick Tarnas ‘s Facebook page and I think it’s just perfect even though it’s a couple of years old.  I hope you will agree.

A couple of thoughts about hope in a dark time:

I’ve been thinking about hope lately. Hope seems to me a crucial factor for us all today. We’re descending daily into catastrophe, yet we are inalienably endowed with an ever-evolving aspiration to realize something beyond the already-actual. Hope, I believe, can serve as both an *intimation* and an *evocation* of a greater or higher or deeper dimension of being that is drawing us forth.

It seems to be in the nature of this dimension that in the very experience of our sensing its existence – such as glimpsing a great arc of the moral universe, or seeing a beauty that passes all understanding – we feel powerfully drawn to actualize it, to participate in its enactment even if our rigorous instrumental reason and the existing empirical data give us little or no grounds for optimism.

I’ve come to think of hope as a kind of metaphysical practice, a practice that has both imaginative and moral aspects. This practice draws on an underlying trust in deep cosmotheanthropic moral-spiritual sources – sources that are at once cosmic, divine, and human, and that we have learned to not place a priori limits on. These sources serve as a continuing critical counterpoint to our impartial rational assessments of our concrete situation seen in the light of common day. They help us recognize that even in the light of common day we may be seeing through a glass darkly. And even as hope draws on trust in those deeper sources, it goes beyond that trust to actively reach into the indeterminate fertile depths of the future and plant a seed there.

What I’m trying to describe here is similar, I think, to philosopher Jonathan Lear’s call for an attitude of “radical hope…that is directed towards a future goodness that transcends the current ability to understand what it is”; that requires openness and “imaginative excellence”; I would add that such a hope depends not only on an attitude of receptivity and imaginative power in experiencing that higher or deeper dimension drawing us forth, but also on something like an act of courage — though not simply courage on our own: Such a hope depends upon our active co-creation of, and by means of, that greater dimension, participating in its eternal fountain of new possibilities, with each of us an embedded yet self-responsible player in a much larger drama than we will ever fully know.

“Hope is the rainbow over the cascading stream of life” (Nietzsche).

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