Hope requires the courage to reach farther, dig deeper, confront our limits and those of nature, work harder, and dream dreams.
_ David Orr, from "Optimism and Hope in a Hotter Time," Conservation Biology. v21 n6. 2007
The field of sustainability produces a lot of doom and gloom literature. Which is one reason that I enjoy reading David Orr. Orr, a professor of Environmental Studies at Oberlin College, is a prolific writer in the field and I always leave his readings thinking that our planet still has a chance.
I was assigned the reading, "Optimism and Hope in a Hotter Time" last fall for my sustainable theory course. I was very taken with what he had to say at the time, and after everything that has happened so far in 2009 I am finding that his words are so much more applicable than I even originally thought. I highly recommend taking your next free 20 minutes to read this article.
Orr makes the claim that optimism is merely positive thinking when the likely outcome will be positive.
"Hope, however, requires us to check our optimism at the door and enter the future without illusions. It requires a level of honesty, selfawareness, and sobriety that is difficult to summon and sustain. I know a great many smart people and many very good people, but I know far fewer people who can handle hard truth gracefully without despairing." (Orr, 2007)
I really like this approach. If you read my last post, Refocusing, I was struggling to define what made Katie Katie. Katie was one of the few "people who could handle hard truths gracefully without despairing." It is one of my ambitions to live like this, it will not come as easily for me as it did her, but it is the best goal I can achieve and I will work towards this goal daily.
I like that the article acknowledges that not all is lost. I like that it acknowledges that it is going to require a tremendous amount of work. I like that it acknowledges that there is an infinite amount of hope available waiting for us to act on.