OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOia, Santorini, Greece
Photo by Pat Hoerth

The more privileged the intellectual, the greater the responsibility to use our resources, status, and autonomy to face these issues. There is a lot riding on whether we have the courage and the strength to accept that danger, joyfully. This harsh assessment, and the grief that must accompany it, is not a rejection of joy. The two, grief and joy, are not mutually exclusive but, in fact, rely on each other, and define the human condition. As Wendell Berry puts it, we live on ‘the human estate of grief and joy.’

This inevitably leads to the question: where can we find hope? My short answer: Don’t ask someone else where to find it. Create it through your actions. hope is not something we find, but is something we earn. No one has the right to be hopeful until they expend energy to make hope possible.

If people demand that intellectuals provide hope—or, worse, if intellectuals believe it is their job to give people hope—then offering platitudes about hope is just another way of avoiding the difficult questions. Clamoring for hope can be a dangerous diversion. But if the discussion of hope leads to action, even in the face of situations that may be hopeless, then we can hold onto what Albert Camus called a ‘stubborn hope.’

I would call this a hope beyond hope, the willingness not only to embrace that danger but to find joy in it. The systems that structure our world have done more damage than we can understand, but no matter how dark the world grows, there’s  light within.

—Robert Jensen
We Are All Apocalyptic Now