“If you want to be hopeful, you have to do hopeful things.” That’s the advice of Daniel Berrigan. He’s spent his life doing hopeful things for peace and justice, and has become a source of hope for many. As for me, I’ve tried to do hopeful things, but I find it usually just brings me to the edge of hope. Sometimes I can almost taste hope, but more often than not, it’s just outside my reach. But that’s OK. Hope, I’m learning, is a journey. Often, it demands the risk of coming close to despair. That’s why hope requires steadfast action. For Easter people stuck in a Good Friday world, active hope is a necessity. It’s a stubborn way of life. Hope is daily choice.
That’s one of the lessons from Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone’s magnificent new book, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy (New World Library, 269 pp., $14.95, activehope.info). Active hope is something you choose, they suggest. If we want hope, we have to choose hope and join the struggle for hope. We don’t want to go crazy with despair and add to the craziness of the world. As people of resurrection, we choose to live in hope, and so we take action for the hope of a new world.
My friend Joanna Macy is one of nation’s great teachers of peace, hope and nonviolent action. An eco-philosopher, Joanna is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory and deep ecology, and has been active in peace and justice movements for five decades. This milestone of a book, an extraordinary accomplishment, is the fruit of her life’s work. Her colleague, Chris Johnstone, is a physician and a specialist in the psychology of resilience, happiness and positive change.