What does it mean to choose hope?
2018 was a tough one. The response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting showed us that gun control was still not up for debate. Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 saw yet another blow to the power of labor unions, and sex workers were robbed of the little rights they had thanks to the passing of SESTA/FOSTA. Thurman Blevins was shot and killed in North Minneapolis, and families were torn apart by ICE not only at the southern US border, but also in ICE raids in southern Minnesota. The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting revived terror in Jewish communities, while a recent climate report warns us of looming climate catastrophe. This has been enough to contend with, without considering the rapid expansion of capital’s control over our lives.
It is hard to see a silver lining as we scroll through social media, listen to the radio or open up the pages of the newspaper. There are arguments between family members, friends, strangers and even comrades about the different sides of an issue. Sometimes it’s easier to crawl back into bed, popcorn in hand, and watch through yet another season of your favorite show, seeking the comfort of the familiar and reliable. With the sun setting at 4:30 PM nowadays and the wintry temperatures dropping below 0 degrees, well, why not?
I cannot promise that 2019 will be any different. Climate disaster is coming. ICE raids are still happening. Sex workers are being killed, and police are still getting away with murder as you read this. Fascism is terrifyingly on the horizon.
And yet, I still choose hope.
I choose hope because I saw my comrades go to the state capitol this past December to demand Governor Dayton, Tim Walz and Betty McCollum to stop the construction of Line 3. I choose hope because my friends rallied with sex workers at the Let Us Survive action last April. I choose hope because I saw DSA show up at the Families Belong Together march as a large, socialist contingent. I choose hope because after Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 was announced, we took to the streets. Across the nation, West Virginia teachers went on strike, with Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona striking after them. On the west coast, Portland General Defense Committee (GDC) members, along with other coalition leaders, organized occupation of the ICE detention facility, setting up an encampment along the trolley tracks outside the facility and eventually temporarily shutting it down. I choose hope because everywhere else, I see my comrades and allies choosing hope too.
What does it mean to choose hope?
Those restful TV binges with junk food are necessary to keep us going and are not exclusive to the work of changing our society. Yet, despite the work that looms in front of us, in spite of the atrocities committed every day, and even though we feel burnt out, we still believe in the movement, in our collective power, and in each other. That is what it means to choose hope.
Prison abolitionist and educator Mariame Kaba says, “Hope doesn’t preclude feeling sadness or frustration or anger or any other emotion that makes total sense. Hope is not an emotion and hope is not optimism. Hope is a discipline, and we have to practice it every single day.” Kaba says that hope is a way of living – of believing there is always potential for transformation and change. And like any other discipline, it will take time, energy and effort. Throughout 2018, I saw my comrades at meetings, phone banking, canvassing, connecting people, organizing actions – practicing hope. They are what keeps me going, even on the dark days. Choosing hope means believing that a better world is possible and ultimately, we will win.
Here’s to a new year, comrades.
We are excited by what we can create, we believe it is possible to create the next world. We believe.adrienne maree brown, from Emergent Strategy
For Further Review
With so many great podcasts, articles, books and videos coming out, it’s easy to miss something great. Here’s a few things we’ve found and loved recently:
Pity the Conservative Consumer Watchdog – Zoë Beery
The Year Tech Workers Realized They Were Workers – Nitasha Tiku
A Podcast In The Making: Getting Emotional About Labor – Naomi Klein