As Election Day results settled over me, I tuned in to Stephen Colbert’s live Election Night special. When Trump’s victory seemed inevitable, Colbert turned to journalist John Heilemann looking for the silver lining.
“I got nothing,” Heilemann replied.
I turned off the television. I too was adrift.
The election violated so many beliefs I hold dear. I could not envision the future.
My son Adam gave me a way to look forward: these words by Rebecca Solnit, a Harper’s editor, activist, and author of Hope in the Dark, an account of the power of political engagement against steep odds.
Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away….
Though hope can be an act of defiance … it is important to say what hope is not: it is not the belief that everything was, is or will be fine…. It is also not a sunny everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse one…. Grief and hope can coexist.
Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes…. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists.”
Solnit also finds hope in “the altruistic, idealistic forces already at work in the world.” I know those forces are real in the nonprofit sector.
She adds, much of “our everyday lives … are in essence … made up of things we do for free, out of love and on principle.” I thought about all the committed organizational leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years in my consulting practice.
What are we doing to dispel the fog that has enveloped the many idealistic souls who populate the nonprofit sector? What is an organization’s leader’s role at a time like this?
Perhaps sharing Solnit’s words will be meaningful. They have helped me begin to see past my disappointment to the possibility of action. Thank you, Adam.
Solnit has made an electronic edition of the book available free during this week, via the Haymarket publisher’s website. Click here for more info.