In a world that has so much terrible stuff going on, finding hope has always been incredibly important to me. I need hope to survive, and I need hope to do pretty much anything related to social justice or helping other people. I have to believe that somehow, what I do will help. It will matter.
I think that having hope is half of what makes it possible for people to work for social change. Without it, we fall into nihilism and apathy.
There are a few things that have given me hope when I needed it most:
1) Martin Luther King, Jr. got a C in his college philosophy class.
2) Rosa Parks worked on desegregation for 12 years before she sat down on that bus.
3) Susan B. Anthony worked for women’s suffrage for her whole life. She died 14 years before it happened.
4) The Greensboro sit-in, which launched a whole movement of sit-ins for desegregation, started because four guys (four!) just decided to do it one day.
6) I know a man who started college sexist and graduated an anti-sexist activist.
7) This book. And really, Kate Bornstein herself.
8) The last scene in Angels in America.
9) This book. I refer to it regularly when I don’t think I can do any more.
10) The activists I met in Colombia, especially the one who told me that despite constant death threats, she is not afraid because she has a sense of history, and she knows that things do change.
11) Malalai Joya.
12) A skinny guy who led a movement that took down a huge and brutal empire with love, of all things.
13) The fact that #12 could actually refer to more than one person.
14) Banyan seed.
15) Banyan tree.
What gives you hope?