Thursday, November 24, 2005

Empowerment Through Hopelessness

Bush would like us to merely hope for a better world sometime tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes, as we all know. But the deeper problem is the nature of this "hope" which brings more anxiety and despair, and further displaces actual change. So today, our bloggence provides another free paradox: an excerpt from "Letting Go of Hope" By Margaret Wheatley}

. . . East German dissident Rudolf Bahro said: "When the forms of an old culture are dying, the new culture is created by a few people who are not afraid to be insecure." Could insecurity, self-doubt, be a good trait? I find it hard to imagine how I can work for the future without feeling grounded in the belief that my actions will make a difference. But Bahro offers a new prospect, that feeling insecure, even groundless, might actually increase my ability to stay in the work. I've read about groundlessness - especially in Buddhism - and recently have experienced it quite a bit. I haven't liked it at all, but as the dying culture turns to mush, could I give up seeking ground to stand on?

Vaclav Havel helped me become further attracted to insecurity and not-knowing: "Hope," he states, "is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out."

Havel seems to be describing not hope, but hopelessness. Being liberated from results, giving up outcomes, doing what feels right rather than effective. He helps me recall the Buddhist teaching that hopelessness is not the opposite of hope. Fear is. Hope and fear are inescapable partners. Anytime we hope for a certain outcome, and work hard to make it happen, then we also introduce fear - fear of failing, fear of loss. Hopelessness is free of fear and thus can feel quite liberating. I've listened to others describe this state. Unburdened of strong emotions, they describe the miraculous appearance of clarity and energy. . . .

See her essay at
And the link above is to "The Impossible" dot org, or Paul Loeb's website, with more about Living with Conviction in a Cynical Time and the anthology:The Impossible Will Take a Little While.


At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush To Increase Funding For Hope-Based Initiatives

The Onion, November 23, 2005 | Issue 41•47

At 8:17 PM, Blogger Mac said...

Merton does make the point often that those who are "detached" from the world are better able to love those in it. There is a freedom in detachment most embraced by Buddhism, but also in some Christian traditions.


Post a Comment

<< Home