When I look back at photos from New Year’s Eve 2019, I can only shake my head. There I am at a party, grinning widely with my husband and son in front of a glittery 2020 sign. Partygoers mill about, no more than a couple of feet away. There isn’t a mask in sight. If only I — or any of us — had known what was coming.
Because let’s face it: 2020 was a train wreck. Whether you’re looking at the pandemic, racial injustice, the climate crisis, the economy or a fraught U.S. election, it can feel like hope is fading faster than the final ember at the tip of a candlewick. Would it be foolish to envision a better 2021?
In his recent book, Commanding Hope, Thomas Homer-Dixon admits that “many of us have come to regard hope with disdain — as a state of mind that’s naive and irresolute at best, delusional at worst.” The daily news cycle reinforces this cynical outlook, threatening to turn us all into nihilists.
But all is not lost, according to Homer-Dixon. The prominent Canadian intellectual says three changes are essential to our survival as a species: a better understanding of our own ideas and what makes others see things differently; actively creating a more positive narrative for the future; and mobilizing our human ingenuity to produce that better world. “Each of these changes requires that we have hope,” he writes.
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At Broadview, we can do our part by supporting our readers with the first two changes — offering diverse perspectives to deepen our collective understanding of challenging issues, and then pairing the difficult facts with positive solutions. You’ll find inspiring stories that do both in this issue, such as a piece showcasing churches fighting anti-Black racism, poet Ross Gay’s unique perspective on joy and an interview with Roland Acheampong, who’s helping kids gain self-confidence through sewing.
Where do you find hope when times are bleak, when challenges seem insurmountable? I think one of the most hopeful phrases in Christianity is “Thy kingdom come.” Christians interpret this part of the Lord’s Prayer in many ways. I’ve always taken it as a call to establish on Earth a world that is as equitable, just and “good” as a loving God intended it. Uttering “Thy kingdom come” helps me orient myself toward justice, to keep believing that paradise on Earth is possible. Most importantly, it reminds me to keep hoping.
Whatever else we resolve to do in 2021, let’s resolve to have hope — to embody hope. Of course, we have to face the hard truths, but let’s have faith that we can overcome whatever 2021 may throw at us. Have a happy, and hopeful, new year!
This editorial first appeared in Broadview’s January/February 2021 issue with the title “Hopeful new year.”
Jocelyn Bell is the editor-publisher of Broadview. She is also the winner of the 2020 National Magazine Awards Editor Grand Prix award.
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