Sure…it’s unrealistic to assume that once midnight rolled around on January 1, 2021, the harrowing circumstances of this past year would fade into the ether, and our planet will re-align on its axis. We know there are still changes to push for and obstacles to face. We understand that a New Year does not cancel out all the events which came before. We are in this period of cultural reckoning for an indefinite amount of time—and rightfully so. But while 2021 cannot wipe the slate, it can introduce a new chapter.
In other words, there is hope in the future, unknown and ambiguous as it feels. Because there just has to be. If we lose our hope, then what else do we have as an anchor in this turmoil? What else could inspire us to continue scraping our way forward—to marshal our endurance, summon our bravery and reclaim our gratitude? In times of fear, outrage and sorrow, hope is what tethers us to our own humanity. It keeps us in this game of life. So as 2021 dawns on the horizon, there is still much to be hopeful for.
Hope Is Our Resilience.
In a recent article on her platform Thrive Global, media executive Arianna Huffington writes that her word of the year is “resilience.” This trait, she believes, not only sustained us in 2020, but will “carry us into 2021.” We stumbled through all kinds of uncertainties last year, but as a culture, we have not lost our ability to persevere.
“Resilience is the vaccine we already have,” Huffington points out. “It’s our immune system for the inevitable ups and downs of life…not just to overcome the obstacles, but to be transformed by them.” I think hope is the main ingredient in resilience. It’s a sense of promise and meaning for tomorrow. It’s a lifeline to steady us in the now and prevent us from buckling under cynicism. Hope is the reason we continue to rally when the forecast is turbulent. When there is hope, there is also strength.
Hope Is Our Great Unifier.
“Fear divides us, but hope unites us.” I cannot remember where I first heard this quote, but it feels enormously relevant at this intersection we have reached as a society. Fear provokes mistrust, suspicion, ignorance or discrimination. But hope seeks dignity, value, connection, empathy, kindness and respect for all humanity. While fear creates barriers, hope leans in with a heart to understand. In our differences, hope can be a common ground.
Unity has given me hope this year. People of all races and cultures joining forces to stand, march, speak and vote for the change they want to see in this world—that is hope to me. In the white noise of Twitter feuds, the campaign of misinformation, the polarized rhetoric of lawmakers, and the injustice of systems that push lives to the margins, we can still find hope in one another. Our experiences are diverse, but our existence is collective. So as we hope together, we also unite as citizens, allies and humans.
Hope Is Our Last Option.
Staring into this landscape of brokenness and suffering, it occurs to me that, in anxious times like this, hope is the one constant we can still hold onto. “Cultivating hope is essential not only for our mental and physical health, but for the survival of our communities and our species as a whole,” urges licensed counselor, mindfulness practitioner and functional medicine coach Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed.
“Hope decreases the stress and negative impact of the situation at hand. It alters our perception and outlook on the circumstance, decreases feelings of powerlessness, improves our ability to cope, and enables us to carry on despite the hardship we face.” In other words, hope for the soul is no different than breath for the lungs. We need this therapeutic balm when our last thread of sanity is about to unravel. We need hope to bolster our weak bodies, to arouse our weary spirits. It’s all we have to guide us home.
What makes you hopeful for the start of 2021? How are you planning for and looking ahead to the possibilities of this New Year? Is there any bright spot on the horizon personally for you right now? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!