These are divisive times. It feels like political and religious partisanship has never been as pronounced as it is today.
And yet, I have hope.
I don’t recall the source, or I’d cite it, but someone said that while there are definitely ups and downs to the story of humanity, the overall trend has always been positive. As a species, we continue to trend upward to be better.
By measures of health, life expectancy, standard of living, even equality and humanity, and many more, the long-term trend continues to be upward.
Further, some of the greatest upward spikes have immediately followed the downward dips.
There’s no question we’re in one of those dips, particularly here in the United States. I hope that we’re near the bottom, and that an upward spike is on the horizon.
I could be wrong about the timing. The dip could be deeper and last longer.
But I remain hopeful that eventually we’ll pull out of the downward spiral and discover new, better selves.
I think one reason this current dip seems particularly bad is that we’ve had an over-optimistic view of where we were leading up to it.
When populists came to power in several countries, including the United States, it didn’t change anyone, but instead made it acceptable for the more right wing and extreme opinions to be seen in the open.
It became OK to mock the disabled from a podium. It became OK to justify ripping children away from their parents. It became OK to take away rights. It became OK to dismantle democracy, by insurgency, if necessary.
The people supporting these ideas were always there. The difference is simply that they were no longer afraid to express their opinions publicly because they had a leader that expressed the same, and worse.
Those folks had always been there.
The spike wasn’t as high as we imagined.
What that means is that while the dip is lower than we want it to be, it’s not quite as long a fall as we might imagine.
I’m hopeful that eventually kindness and compassion will increase in popularity. I’m hopeful that concern over one-another will become more important than concern for ourselves. I’m hopeful that politicians that incite this horrific behavior will eventually fall out of favor.
I’m hopeful that, eventually, humanity will recover and become better than we are today.
And I do have hope.
I see it in the good acts and news stories that you don’t see every day. I’m hopeful because I actively look for the goodness in people and I find it.
I’m hopeful that being good to one another will one day become publicly popular once again.
I hope it’ll happen in my lifetime.
It may not.
But I have hope.