How can hope possibly have anything to do with politics? Aren’t the problems too large? Aren’t we frigging helpless? I don’t think so. I’ve spent a lifetime proving that we’re not, but the person who I believe best describes how hope connects to politics is writer Rebecca Solnit. I love how she shows the power of the individual here in her 2016 book Hope in the Dark.
(I)n Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of boat-owners rescued people—single moms, toddlers, grandfathers—stranded in attics, on roofs, in flooded housing projects, hospitals, and school buildings. None of them said, I can’t rescue everyone, therefore it’s futile, therefore my efforts are flawed and worthless, though that’s often what people say about more abstract issues in which, nevertheless, lives, places, cultures, species, rights are at stake. They went out there in fishing boats and rowboats and pirogues and all kinds of small craft, some driving from as far as Texas and eluding authorities to get in, others refugees themselves working within the city. There was bumper-to-bumper boat-trailer traffic—the celebrated Cajun Navy—going toward the city the day after the levees broke. None of those people said, I can’t rescue them all. All of them said, I can rescue someone, and that’s work so meaningful and important I will risk my life and defy the authorities to do it. And they did.
May you take do one thing today. Just one.
Who’s that strange woman in the photo? That’s me at the Woman’s March on Topeka, Kansas, doing my one thing on January 21, 2017.