Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Hope is stronger than cynicism

This issue of the SSH is being published in the closing weeks of the federal election campaign.

I suspect I’m not alone in saying that election campaigns do not fill me with hope. This year’s experience is no different and it concerns me because hope is not a weak, sentimental quality. Hope underpins all action for change.

By definition, hope exists when we cannot see justice, equity and peace. Hope opens eyes and hearts to the possibility of a different world, a kinder humanity, a society founded on justice and equity. Hope takes root when we decide to believe in the possibility of change.

If you too are struggling to find hope, I want to encourage you to look in a different direction: to focus your gaze closer to the ground. Instead of looking to the mainstream media’s portrayal of politicians, party platforms, photo opps and slogans, look to the margins. Look to the places that the mainstream media overlooks.

Look around your neighbourhood. Notice the individuals who speak up for others, who go out of their way to help, who are leading others in making a difference. The SSH and other independent media often tell the stories of such people.

And look to the community groups, organisations – dare I say it, churches – who are organising voices of dissent and presenting an alternative view of how the world could be.

Take, for example the issue of climate change. Just this week, a Pasifika Climate election forum gathered Pacific Islander peoples and others from across Western Sydney to question political candidates on their policies for climate action in Australia and the Pacific.

The Sydney Alliance organises Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith groups to speak to power with a unified voice.

My denomination, the Uniting Church, has identified seven key election issues, including climate justice, “that  Australia must address urgently to build a more just, compassionate and inclusive nation”.

The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change brings together people of all faiths to stand together to advocate, educate and act, grounded in a shared moral and spiritual commitment to care for and protect the Earth which is our home.

None of these initiatives are heralded, but I would argue they are more powerful, because they are the fruits of hope. They are actions taken because one person has taken hold of hope and encouraged others to do the same.

Hope is stronger than despair and cynicism. Hope leads to action that demonstrates there is more to life than money and status; that all human beings are inherently precious; that all actions have consequences; that we live in interconnection with each other and with all other living creatures.

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