I struggle with hope because I am a worrier. I worry about everything. When I was in middle school there was a day that my parents had a mix up about who was going to pick me up at school. One of them finally arrived an hour late. I had spent the last forty-five minutes of that hour imagining that my parent’s had died in a terrible car crash. That’s why no one was there to pick me up. I was going to go live with my Uncle Stephen, at least that’s who I think I was suppose to go to, I wasn’t sure. My brother and I would have to move to Wilmington. I’d start at a new school. What if my brother was in the car too? It’d just be me and my uncle. At least he lived at the beach. I’d learn to surf.
I worry most about the future–not my own personal future, the big time where is humankind headed future. I worry about politics. I worry about civil society. I worry about public discourse. I worry that the systems are broken. I worry that the institutions are rotten. I worry that whatever I do will be futile to change the world for the better. I worry that evil is winning.
And yet, I hope. I hope because I have the privilege of taking part in a community of scholars and students. I hope because of the students I taught last year, the questions they asked and the energy they put into understanding the material. I hope because of the colleagues I have who are dedicated to academic work that really matters. I hope because of their books and articles that make me marvel at their incisive analysis. I hope because of the bloggers who speak truth and decency. I hope because I hear other voices shouting answers to the worries I feel. I hope because there are places I look and see good triumphing over evil.
I hope because hope is the answer to worry. Hope refuses to give in to worry, fear, and, anxiety. Hope dispels fear, melts anxiety, and calms worry. I hope because to not hope would be to give up. So, I hope that my work amounts to something. I hope that my teaching impacts someone. I hope that my writing touches an audience. I hope that cooler heads prevail. I hope that wisdom is heard. I hope that institutions reform, minds expand, hearts grow, and good triumphs. I hope because in hope we can find strength for action.
Passing the Baton
I’ve run my leg of this relay, now it’s time to hand it off to….
Ta-Nehisi Coates– I figured I’d at least ask him if he’d do it.
Kelly J. Baker— She usually writes about hate but now we’ll see if she’ll write about hope.
Jermaine McDonald– My favorite ethicist and a source for all things civil religion.
James McCarty III– My other favorite ethicist.
Take it away folks!