That of God in everyone

Finding hope in today’s world

Screenshot 2019-08-22 at 16.54.24

Finding hope in today’s world
Megan Corrigan, South Belfast Meeting

Following recent ministry in Meeting, and conversations with my teenage daughter, I have been thinking a lot about hope. In the current climate it can be very difficult to feel hopeful, the problems in our societies and across the world can feel overwhelming. However, if we have no hope and feel that the future is bleak, how do we engage with our children and young people about their future? If they feel there is no hope in the future then we are in a dangerous place.

Over the summer I happened to take on holiday a book that has been on my reading pile for a long time – a book by Rabbi Lionel Blue on everyday Jewish spirituality (1). Despite all the horrors and failings in Jewish history (from accounts in the Hebrew Scriptures right up to the current day) Rabbi Blue feels that what keeps Judaism going is ‘its essential hopefulness about time’ (pg91). Hope is written into the liturgy of Jewish worship and prayer.

This made me start to think about what Quakers say about hope so I looked up the word in the index of both Quaker and Faith and Practice (BYM) and Quaker Life and Practice (IYM) and it is not there (maybe it should be). I turned to the internet and on the Quakers in Britain website came across an interesting blog by
Clare Bonetree (2). It ends by saying ‘Yes, these are very troubled times. This also means they are the time to come together, and step into our collective courage to 'do' hope, over and over again’. She points to a book Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone (3).

Central to the book is the idea that ‘active hope’ is something we can do: it’s about knowing what we hope for and then playing an active part in working towards it. The authors contrast ‘pa
ssive hope’, the ‘waiting for external agencies to bring about what we desire’, with this ‘active hope’, which ‘is about becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for.’ They describe the three key steps involved in practising ‘active hope’, the guiding impetus of which is intention rather than optimism. As such ‘we can apply it even in areas where we feel hopeless’.

Active hope is a challenge, a way to do hope in today’s world.
It is something that is probably already taking place at grass root levels but we need to talk more about it. We need to minister hope and find ways to inspire our young people about the world they are growing up in. However hard this may seem, it is our responsibility. Maybe ‘hope’ is partly what faith is and doing something about it is faith in action.

(1) Rabbi Lionel Blue (1975) ‘To heaven with Scribes and Pharisees,’ London: Darton, Longman and Todd.

(2) Clare Bonetree (2019)

(3) Joanne Macy & Chris Johnstone (2012) ‘Active Hope’, California: New World Library.