“Hope is the acknowledgement that you are in a narrow space but you have had a glimpse, some flutter, of the possibility to transcend negative confinement and arrive at some more expansive state of being. Hope is not simply wishful thinking, but rather a capacity to hold to the belief that change for the better can and will come, even when you can’t imagine what format that Dawn will take.”
A friend recently sent me this passage by Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, founder of the American Visual Arts Museum. Currently, the museum has “The Big Hope Show” as an ongoing exhibit, featuring work by visionary artists – many of whom are trauma survivors.
As we look toward a new year, many of us are looking for signs that it will be better than the last. Though 2015 was a difficult year for many, there were also some small and large flutters of hope for 2016.
As a physician, I’ve frequently been reminded of the need and ability to cling to hope – by torture survivors, sexual violence survivors, and many of my other patients who have survived unimaginable forms of violence.
Hope is also important to us globally in our quest toward social justice.
Here are four areas where I see big flutters of hope for the New Year:
Getting to the Roots of Violence
We are slowly beginning to recognize that we must address the roots of violence. Violence against people and animals stirs from the same sources, and national coalitions are starting to address this link. Recognizing the link between violence against people and animals, Tennessee became the first state to form a state-wide animal abuse registry.
Glimpses of Love and Tolerance
In spite of the divisive political rhetoric highlighted by some members of the media, many people around the world have boldly shown love and tolerance for others. One of the best examples of this was the courageous public outpouring of compassion and empathy for migrants escaping war, torture, and abuse in Syria.
Attention to Accountability
In 2015, we saw a growing commitment to end impunity for crimes like sexual violence and torture – both inside and outside the United States.
Younger generations always offer hope. Since they’ve lived through a different history than previous generations, they have the ability to envision a different – and often better – world. In 2015, there were so many examples of the promise offered by young people – from the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai’s leadership on securing girls’ rights to education to young people leading the charge toward animal protection.
Though there are some big challenges ahead of us, there are also promising solutions. Now we just have to rise to the challenge of creating solutions that are greater than the problems they’re meant to solve. Where do you see flutters of hope for the New Year?