Hope vs Hopelessness

In the Degrowth and Deep Adaptation movements, one topic that often comes up is whether we should have hope (and encourage the general public to have hope), or whether hope just makes things worse by perpetuating our dysfunctional ways.

My takes:

One, I think people have different meanings in mind when they say “hope.” For me, a kind of hope I do NOT agree with is the very-popular “one technology will save us” kind of hope. That is false hope.

Two, I think a lot of what’s missing from our perennial discussion of “Giving People Hope vs No Hope” is that there are other very deeply rich and compelling reasons why people get out of bed in the morning, that have nothing to do with whether they feel there is hope for the outcome they want.

Such deeply rich and compelling motivations include:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Heartfelt desire to be in service
  • Creativity/self-expression drive

… all of which can and often DO persist even when “hope” is gone.

I say this as a human and as an end-of-life doula-in-training. I am by far not the first person in the “death professionals community” and “doomer-lite community” to draw a parallel between what transpires with individuals who have been issued a terminal diagnosis; and what can transpire with societies (capitalist, Anglo/Eurocentric industrialized society — as opposed to indigenous cultures) that have proven to be unsustainable and in effect been issued a “terminal diagnosis.”

By the way, I like what Steve Bull has to say here (this is from his latest piece on medium.com):

“What sliver of ‘hope’ I have remaining is that some of humanity (particularly those amongst the privileged minority that have been the largest contributors to our predicament) quickly sees through the fog that is the ‘complex technology will save us’ narrative — let alone their faith in the pursuing the infinite growth chalice — and move swiftly towards acknowledging, accepting, and preparing for what is for all intents and purposes the final endgame of this tragic experiment: the Great Simplification/Long Emergency/Long Descent/Crisis of Civilisation.”

Many of us in the Degrowth and Deep Adaptation movements believe that the collapse of industrialized/consumerist civilization is inevitable. Although no one knows exactly when. Regardless: We still may have some say as to how we collapse, which is why we need to act for social and ecological justice in this context, for a “just” collapse. For more about #JustCollapse, check out https://justcollapse.org

Also: A question that often comes up in these “hope vs no hope” discussions is, If people feel there is no hope to fix things by shifting our lifestyles, why would they want to give up their consumerism or other trappings of privilege? To which I say: Maybe because many aspects of privilege are highly overrated, and when the veil is lifted, many of us come to find out we are willing to give them up.