As one hope dies, space for a new hope is born. Sound wisdom from a German scientist who specializes in sustainability.
These are challenging times for scientists who study the natural world in any way, shape or form. Having known many such people, I’ve seen them get increasingly disturbed, worried, angry and depressed, especially during the past ten years. Like anyone else, they want a good future for their children and grandchildren. Unlike anyone else, they see firsthand in their research that such a future is slipping away. When hope dies, is there a way to find it again?
These words from Joern Fischer are worth taking in, whether you are a scientist or simply someone concerned about the future. When hope dies, only by facing reality can we create space for a new hope:
Facing this is not the same as giving up on a vision for a better world – but perhaps we should recognize more clearly that minor catastrophes are already happening right now, and larger ones are likely on the way. There is little benefit in denying this just because it might stifle blind optimism: if this is what is happening, then should we not face it best we can?
Having faced that many things are not going well at all means that our science can come out the other end in new, different ways. Essentially, what we need to do is navigate the trade-off between trying to rescue the systems that are (adaptation), versus letting them go, and transforming our world into a different set of systems. And importantly, we can do both: we can try with part of our energy to hang on to parts of the world as we know it (saving species, for example); but we can also prepare with the rest of our energy for a new world, at the same time. This isn’t giving up – it is seeing reality as it presents itself, and seeking genuine transformation; it is moving from denial and depression to finding entirely new ways to use our energy to make the world a better place.
And thus, as one hope dies, space emerges for a new type of hope: as hope dies that the world as we know it will persist, this makes space for hope that we can positively transform our world over the coming decades, using windows of opportunity as they arise.
photo: hope, by Marc-Olivier Jodoin via Unsplash
Hope is associated with the gold area of the singing wilderness spiritual map.