Monday, February 6, 2017

Hope in the Dark: To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear

It's hard to write about this book. Not because it was bad. I guess a little because it's a series of essays which I always find more difficult to write about than a single narrative. But really because everything is awful and while this book does what it says, provides some hope in the dark, it still sucks that there is so much dark.*

Hope in the Dark is a series of essays published during the G.W.Bush presidency when people were worried and afraid. Solnit pulls together a series of essays about how when things are dark that is the time to act and provides a few essays of examples and work done by herself and other activists.
Gandhi said, "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win."
The essays that were more general, about the power of hope, and the work that should be done. Admittedly, the essays about the Zapatistas were harder for me to get into, probably because I don't know much (anything) about them and these sections could be a bit dry. Still good and impressive stuff here but it didn't stick with me like the other chapters. When she's addressing the horror and dread people feel at what's happening and talks about what hope is and isn't, I was 100% on board and wanted to underline everything. Probably because those chapters, at that time were speaking directly to me, someone wondering if we can have hope during a time when that seems impossible.
It's important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it's not a substitute for action, only a basis for it.
There is a focus on the fact that change is not instant, that because there aren't instant returns, actions can seem meaningless. That anything less than total victory is abject failure. It's a good reminder to not give up. She also makes the point that a single victory, even a big one, is not the end and that being engaged and staying engaged is important.

She talks about a response a guy had to a piece written about women's rights. The man argued that women used to make 66 cents to a dude's dollar and how they make 77, which is better than 66 so why are people still complaining?
[The] politics we have is so pathetically bipolar that we only tell this story two ways: either seventy-seven cents is a victory, and victories are points where you shut up and stop fighting; or seventy-seven cents is ugly, so activism accomplishes nothing and what's the point of even fighting?
There were certain essays that I have a feeling I'll be rereading over the next few months/years (ugh...years).

Gif rating:
*Obviously this is not to say that there wasn't dark before or that this is the worst dark ever because there was and this isn't (at least not yet), but it doesn't have to be a contest. We can be mad at all kinds of dark.

Title quote from location 443

Solnit, Rebecca. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. Haymarket Books, 2005. ebook