To Be Hopeful in Bad Times

Howard Zinn, by Jim from Stevens Point, WI, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Howard Zinn, by Jim from Stevens Point, WI, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

On this Labor Day, here’s a quote from a celebrated historian, the voice of the common people.

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”

—Howard Zinn, from You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train, 1994

2 thoughts on “To Be Hopeful in Bad Times

  1. Dear Shawndra: I loved the Zinn quote. I am often prone to negativity and toward cynicism. I need to be reminded to hope. The Zinn quote made me think of something I just read from Franciscan Richard Rohr “We have spent centuries of philosophy trying to solve ‘the problem of evil,” yet I believe the much more confounding and astounding issue is the ‘problem of good.’ How do we account for so much gratuitous and sheer goodness in this world.”

    What will I choose to emphasize in the world around me? There is so much truth in what he’s saying. Negativity totally hinders my ability to play in active role in this world and in the lives of my children

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