One of the things that makes Rebecca Solnit such a powerful and inspiring writer is her ability to talk bluntly and unflinchingly about what is wrong in the world, however grim the facts may be, without giving up on the hope that we need to hold onto if we want to make the world a better place.
In an essay published yesterday in the Guardian, Solnit acknowledges that, yes, here “[i]n the United States we are probably headed for a very grim phase of uncertain duration.” And she reminds us that it is in grim times like these that we have the greatest need for hope.
“Hope is for when you don’t have what you need and for when things are not OK,” she writes. “It is the belief that liberation might be possible that motivates you to make it more possible … .”
It’s in the darkest times that resistance — and the hope that drives it — can make the biggest difference.
“We would do well to study the countries that have sunk into tyranny or despotism and survived,” Solnit notes.
To discover how Argentina and Chile and Brazil went through an era of dictators and death squads and emerged, in part because people like the Argentinian women in las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo stood up to their fears and their regime.
Solnit finds hope not only in history but in those who are standing up against injustice today.
“There is another America rising and taking action, and it is beautiful,” she writes.
Many people are still trying to figure out what to do; others are doing it. They give me hope, in some portion of humanity, the portion that will resist Trump and defend our ideals. It will be hard. It will be ugly. Our job will be to be embody and protect all of those things most antithetical to authoritarianism, racism, misogyny, kleptocracy, an atmosphere of lies and indifference to science, fact and truth.
In easy times, we grow slack; this will require us each to find our capacity for heroism.
It’s a tremendous, and tremendously useful essay. Read the whole thing here.
EDITED TO ADD: If you didn’t already get a copy of Solnit’s book Hope in the Dark when she was giving it away for free, you can get it at half price from the publisher here.