I don’t know if there has ever been a point in history where the world-wide news couldn’t be described as … depressing.
That isn’t to say that the world is a terrible and awful place. But terrible and awful things do happen in it all the damn time, and lately, I’ve personally found myself more deeply affected by it than usual.
And trust me, I’m usually affected by it. Outrage and desire for change are not unknown emotions for me. But, lately, a new emotion has been creeping up: hopelessness.
I have a few reasons for feeling this way. But as I don’t have all day to list them all, I’m only going to focus on one: the most recent shooting to occur in the United States.
It’s frustrating. It was frustrating from the moment I first heard about it on the news, because the way I see it, there are many countries that have proven one surefire way to avoid mass shootings by enforcing stricter gun laws, and yet the States simply refuses to do it. And because of that, people are still being murdered. Children are still being murdered. And I don’t understand. I don’t understand why the States seems to be engaging in this war on its own people. I don’t understand why the right to bear arms matters more than the right to live. I don’t understand, and I’m beginning to lose hope that this change will come about in the near future.
You might disagree with my view on this matter, but I’m not necessarily asking for you to agree with me. I’m only trying to explain where this hopelessness comes from.
And the reason why I am using this example to explain my hopelessness is because I recently watched a video posted to Facebook that featured a woman talking about this tragedy. In the beginning of the video, the woman echoes my own hopeless feelings, making such statements as, “Congress will do nothing to change this bloody course.” Yet, as the video continues, the sentiment begins to take a turn toward the optimistic, ending with such statements as, “Congress will not change, so we must change Congress.”
My initial reaction to this video was something akin to: “well, I agree with the first part, but the last part isn’t going to happen”.
How long has this been going on for? How many men, women, and children have already lost their lives, and received nothing but thoughts and prayers in return? We have gotten so accustomed to this endless cycle, of hearing about shootings, getting upset, demanding action, and then forgetting about it when action doesn’t come. Will we ever actually do anything different?
But the more that I thought about this video (and trust me, it stuck with me), the more that I realized that there was no other way that it could end but on a note of hope. And I don’t simply mean that in the sense that the video couldn’t gain traction on social media if it wasn’t hopeful: I mean it wouldn’t have served any purpose if it wasn’t hopeful.
If it ended where my recent thoughts have been ending, on this idea that change will never happen, then it would become a self-fulfilling prophesy: change would never happen. Nobody would be fighting. Because people don’t fight for things that they don’t imagine will ever happen. And if people aren’t fighting, then change will never happen. There will be no reason for it to happen.
Change won’t happen. People will continue to be murdered. It’s the same thing, every day, and we let it continue.
No, if there is any possibility of change in this world, it comes only from hope.
If you tell people that there’s a chance, then you open their minds to the possibility that you might be right. You make them see the possibilities. You make them want to fight to make it happen.
And maybe the steps we take are small, but they are still steps. Maybe the world isn’t made right in one day. Maybe there are still causalities along the way, and maybe that is a terrible tragedy. But an even worse tragedy would be to allow it to keep happen, to give the message to the world that this is alright. We accept this.
Because I don’t accept this. I can’t live with this. And from what I’ve seen of my community, I’m not alone in this thought process.
And it is very easy to lose hope in times like this. It’s very easy when you’re throwing yourself into the issue, full-force, motivated for the change and frustrated that you’re not seeing it. It’s very easy when you’re distanced from the issue, and you simply don’t understand why this is happening. It’s easy, but it’s also dangerous.
We need hope. Hope motivates action, and action motivates change. It just motivates change slowly. At a glacial speed, at times. But the small victories are still victories, and if nothing else is accomplished, keeping the fight going is at least a victory. Whenever you allow the fight to die, that is when the goal dies as well.
So whenever you are starting to feel hopeless, remember this: you are not alone in this. Even when it feels like you are surrounded by people who don’t understand, who aren’t listening, there are always going to be people in there who do understand. People who are afraid to speak up. People who need to find the courage to say something. And if you keep talking, if you keep fighting, you will eventually find these people. And together, you will be heard. You will create change.