With the uncertainties about our country’s future, it is easy to fall into a quagmire of fear and anxiety. Yet women who have experienced decades in this world have one of the best weapons against those fears: hope. Where does that come from?
For some, it has been the example of young children. Think of toddlers who are learning to walk. They fall numerous times only to get up and try again. For some, it is the Black women and men continuing to fight for the ability to exercise their right to vote after more than a century. For others, it is the research scientist who continues despite repeated failures to seek a cure for a disease. It is hope to learn to walk, to be able to vote, to discover a life-saving treatment that keeps them going.
Right now, we face a conservative majority in the Supreme Court and many state-level restrictions to abortion. What is it that has kept women fighting for their right to bodily autonomy? What is it that maintains their determination to defend the right to have or not to have a child? What sustains women who continue to advocate for a safe environment for their children? Hope and a deep belief that someday, somehow, things will change. They may not even know how that will come about. They are willing to keep fighting until changes happen.
Hope is deeper than wishful thinking. It is taking action to move forward despite an uncertain outcome. It is an act of faith. As Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.”
So, where can we find hope now? We find it in the determination of health providers to give care to women seeking abortions. We find it in the midwives and doulas who press to be included in pregnant people’s health care. We find it in the diversity of protesters in the Black Lives Matter demonstrations. We find it in the determination of Members of Congress, on January 6th, to complete the election process at the U.S. Capitol despite potential threats to their lives from domestic terrorists. Great leaders inspire the trust that generates hope and optimism that comes from everyone creating a better future together.
Hope is there when we join with one or two or many people to advocate for a safer, more just world. Hope is like a path where there never was a path. But when many people walk on it, it becomes a path. Together, we can ensure a path forward for all.