The Power of Hope in Harrowing Times
Recently it’s felt like every day brings with it a new disaster. We have storms, floods, fires and earthquakes, along with mass violence, terrorism, political instability and threats of war.
It’s a big planet. On any given day, there are plenty of places where people suffer. Sometimes we forget that, and it feels like disaster only happens to other people. We watch it on TV, and, if we feel moved, we crack open the wallet, just as we are cracking open a beer to watch the game. Now, even the world of sports is dominated by an argument much bigger than which team to root for, or which team will win.
Now, we watch as our friends on social media lose their homes, their loved ones, and their livelihoods. Rarely does a tragedy happen that we don’t immediately think of those we know who may be impacted.
Most of us are compassionate people. We care about what happens to others, and want to help when we can. Some of us are empathic people. We feel the suffering of others, even across the distance.
Those of us who so far have been lucky enough to stay largely unaffected have been deeply moved when we see stories of heroism. Even as folks are attacking each other with words and memes on social media, people in disaster zones are helping each other survive.
For those who have been directly impacted by this recent wave of disasters, life will never be the same. Whether personal tragedy is suffered by a single individual or by a group, in a private disaster or a public one, the need for healing, for finding a new normal, and finding spiritual peace in the face of loss, is the same for everyone.
The rest of us, we lucky ones, are suffering, too. One can never compare the wounds of a nation with the wounds of a bereaved individual. Yet, it must be said that, after storms, fires, shootings and terrorism, we are all hurting right now.
We are hurt by the threat of violence, and we are hurt to see so many suffer, and so many still in harm’s way.
The Uranus-versus-Pluto political divide that is expressing itself all over the globe hurts us too. Here in the US, and in many places abroad, we are divided in our opinions and beliefs, but all hurt by the lack of civility and our recent inability to find common ground.
If you are lucky enough to have your home still standing and your family safe, you may feel a bit silly for feeling anything but gratitude for your good fortune. You may even feel a sense of “survivor guilt” as you go about your daily activities while others are longing for a return to normalcy that may never come.
None of that denies the truth that it can be difficult to live your normal life and work your normal job and enjoy your normal activities when it feels like the world is in chaos.
At the same time, those of us who are able to continue normal life have a responsibility to do so. It’s in everyone’s best interest to keep the fabric of normal life intact.
I’m not a sports fan by any means, but waking up to the news that the Houston Astros had won the World Series filled me with a sense of spiritual joy. That’s because the win reminds us all that we could be underwater one day, and champions the next.
Sometimes dire circumstances give us a special kind of courage, and a deep desire, not only to survive, but to thrive. Our ability to have hope in the face of disaster is a strong weapon against defeat.
Whether we are grieving private loss or a public one, the bravest thing we can do in any grave situation is to keep on going. Our greatest defense is to live, to laugh, to plan for the future and to play to win in the face of doubt and uncertainty.
Staying positive isn’t about being grounded in denial, it’s about knowing the powerful force that positive, proactive energy always is.
Even when we feel powerless to make a difference, and even in the face of grief and tragedy, we must stay focused on a better future because that focus is the greatest light we can bring to any dark situation.
Sometimes the light we bring is a donation of resources for those in need. Sometimes it’s a kind word, or a smile. Sometimes it’s the willingness to work a little harder and try a little more.
Always, the light we bring is hope – the knowledge that, just as great tragedy can strike at any time, wonderful blessings are always equally possible. Even better, the energy with which we respond to tragedy can set the stage for great victory.