I’m heading to The Banff Centre to attend a Hope Summit next weekend, and am really looking forward to being in the room with more than 150 delegates–from government, community organizations, arts, media, non-profits–all of whom want to talk about hope. The organizers have asked participants to say something about why they think tackling hopelessness is important. I’m looking forward to thinking and writing more about all of this in the coming weeks, but here’s what I’m going in with.

I believe what is possible is constrained by the stories we tell ourselves (and one another) about what is possible. Right now, both collectively and individually, we really need better, more robust, more hopeful (while still sharply realistic) stories about who we are as human creatures, where we have been, where we are now, and what the future can still hold. We need culture adequate to us and to our particular problems at this moment in human history. The American environmentalist and writer Wendell Berry has said: “Good work finds the way between pride and despair.” Hope enables us to do good work in what seem to be impossible circumstances. Or maybe doing good work in what seem to be impossible circumstances enables us to have hope. Probably both are true, reciprocally. Wendell Berry again: “to fulfill the possible is to enlarge it.”

I’m looking forward to having a conversation about all of this with people thinking about hope and hopelessness in a lot of different ways, from many different points of view.



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