I have spoken to a lot of people lately who all say the same thing: “I have learned my lesson about hope, and I do not do it anymore.”
I understand what they mean: that they have spent the last few years experiencing heartbreak after heartbreak because they have discovered that things they believed about this country were not actually true. That we are all capable of much worse than we believed, that the capacity to turn a blind eye to pain and suffering is beyond what many of us imagined, that they are tired of the energy it takes to keep believing.
But I don’t think it was hope that created this heartbreak. I think it was ignorance. I think we were all guilty of remaining ignorant to injustice that did not directly impact us, and therefore guilty of not seeing the whole picture clearly. We said we were too hopeful. The truth is harder: that we were too stagnant, too silent, too complacent.
It is easier, isn’t it, to say that all we were guilty of was believing too much? And it’s easy to fix, too! We just stop being hopeful, and boom, our hearts don’t hurt as much anymore.
But here’s the thing about that path: nothing ever gets better. Our hearts might feel less bruised, but our world and the people in it remain broken.
I’m not asking you to hope because I believe that everything will get better immediately, that things will always go our way. I am asking you to hope because the alternative is unacceptable to me. I do not want to have any more conversations with people who are too tired to hope, because hope is the very thing that gives us energy. Hope is the thing that moves us. Hope is the thing that starts conversations, that changes minds, that changes hearts. Hope is the reason we survive.
So please, continue to hope, even when it breaks your heart. Take care of yourselves and each other, but do not give up on the people you think are beyond help. Do not make believing in this place contingent upon how it is behaving in this moment. Believe in this place because you know what it is capable of. Because you are a part of it. Because you carry the hope for this place inside your bruised heart, and we will not get where we are going unless we are brave enough to step forward in hope.