This weekend one of my tweets was put in a Twitter Moment, which are ‘curated stories’ that someone puts together almost like a slideshow. And it was a little strange because while there were suddenly thousands of likes, there were also some random people saying that I made the tweet/interaction up.
And part of me was like, “Wow. They think I’m that clever! That’s so nice.”
And another part of me was like, “Wow. Humanity is pretty sad if people are grumpy about my tweet.”
And then there was a whole other aspect when a couple of people used my tweet to expose their hate about lesbians.
“Don’t look,” my friends told me. “Just don’t even read the comments. There’s nothing you can do.”
Hope and despair and anger.
In politics they can be collective movements, ways to band together. And right now many of my friends are full of despair and longing for hope. And a couple of my friends are full of hope. And some are full of anger. And I am full of all of those emotions and more.
And I worry for all of us.
“All we need is… all we need is hope and for that we have each other,” Andra Day sings in her song ‘Rise Up,’ which you should absolutely go listen to whenever possible because it’s a brilliant song by a talented woman.
Back in 1993, John Rawls talked about how in a pluralistic society with multiple points of views and desired outcomes, there can be no final consensus amongst us, its citizens.
My tweet was a little bit of evidence about that, but Rawls is talking more about government and political outcomes.
He argued that governments can’t make all citizens happy, so all we can expect is for the government to go after those main causes that almost everyone agrees on – human rights, to not discriminate, to make decisions in a democratic and rational way. Anything bigger than that? It’s impossible to achieve.
And this is sort of amusing now (in a bad way) because it seems that even those main causes are no longer agreed upon. I mean, I’ve been trolled for writing about sexual trafficking and human trafficking. It seems like ending human slavery would be one of those main causes that everyone agrees on. And yet…?
Decades before this, back in the 1970s, Rawls noted that the self respect is integral. A citizen of a society can only have self respect when she/he/they know that their country is committed to justice and fair treatment for them.
And that expectation – that they matter, that they won’t be discriminated against, that the laws are fair – is currently being dismantled for a lot of Americans and for many Americans, that expectation has been pretty fragile for awhile now because of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, physical ability, and class. For some of the disenfranchised that expectation has barely existed ever. Yet, there needs to be hope that that expectation will exist and will be met, that we will all be heard, treated with dignity, be free and safe to worship, marry, vote, learn, and live without threat of bodily harm.
So how do you find hope?
Remember these things:
Younger generations are smart and charged up.
More diverse people are running for office
The more extreme people get, the more there becomes a call for the middle – and leaders for that middle. Consensus builders. We need consensus builders in a world of polarities.
The stripping away of belief in institutions and in our selves actually leads us towards a collective orientation towards hope again, towards something we can (or most of us can) work towards. Because all the good guys want rights, want respect, want others to be respected, too.
As Sam Dresser writes, “When political movements seek to rekindle hope, they are not acting on the assumption that individual people no longer hope for things – they are building on the idea that hope does not currently shape our collective orientation toward the future. The promise of a ‘politics of hope’ is thus the promise that hope for social justice will become part of the sphere of collective action, of politics itself.”
Hope and despair and anger? They can co-exist. They can lead to action. They aren’t definitive states. I despair that some people are evil and I’m angry at injustices, but I hope that I can take action and change things and that we can collectively rise about those things, and that I personally can become a better human. I hope you’ll do that, too.
My despair and anger can lead to hope and action and change. The emotions can overlap and coexist just like people do. But to do that, we have to ‘have each other,’ as Andra Day sings.
So, let’s do that. Let’s have each other instead of having at each other.
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