In disturbed times, hope

Painting of a white bird with black wings flying away into the night with thin orange burst of light below

A two-minute read

‘Hope is something you make every day.’

Basma (refugee, single mum, student – Libyan)

The future is becoming harder to face. Aren’t we all feeling it, one way or another?

Our times are disturbed. Economic unfairness joins with ecological strain and a new turn to war, sharpening divisions between us. The costs of living today are of many kinds.

Some are pushed to the margins harder than others – treated as less than they really are so that the rest of us can have more than we really need. The earth itself is treated in this way.

We can hide away, keep calm and carry on, but is that who we really mean to be? Isn’t it more human to try to face the world as it is?

For that, we need hope, but what does that mean?

It’s not optimism, which expects tomorrow to be better than today – we can’t be sure of that.

Hope is something else.

If we know what we live for today, no matter what may happen tomorrow, and if we’re willing to live for it, then we’re already involved in hope. You could even say we’re stuck with it.

This is not a rare thing. Millions of people worldwide care actively about the life around them, try to be thoughtful, live in ways that are rooted in their world.

When you start to look, hope is everywhere.

Hope is found in even the smallest act of care or gesture of hospitality, and in any line of work more generous than harmful.

It’s there too in people’s movements: land-workers creating small ecological republics, refugee solidarity groups, liberation movements around the world, activists challenging the institution of war or trying to curb our violence against the earth.

They’re not doing it because they feel optimistic, but because they know what they care about and find the courage to act on it. This is hope.

So hope lives or dies not by what we think the future will be like, but in the choices we make now about what we really care about – and in the spirit of communities and cultures that try to hold hope in common.

We can all make hope’s work our own, allow it to grow in us.

As an activist myself, I’ve been wondering and writing about hope for a while. On this site I’ve collected some queries to dwell on, examples of hope’s voices, thoughts on some essential themes, and a short book to explore the meaning of hope in a bit more depth.

I hope you find it useful – do let me know.



‘To hope’, from Old English hopian, to trust, to hold faith. Origin unknown, poss from hoffen, to hop, to leap.

Blog Latest

Create a website or blog at