Hope Springs Eternal

As the dark days of winter close in, we take the opportunity to celebrate a few of those ‘ordinary’ people who shine brightly in our own community.

November 22, 2019 | | Editor’s Desk

Tough times we live in – when there seems to be so much more that divides than unites us. Each of us living in our own echo chamber, isolated in front of our own screens, no longer certain of any truth. A time, as poet W.B. Yeats had it, when “the centre cannot hold … The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

At least that is the prevailing narrative. And though it is not without merit, I like to believe it’s hardly the whole story. Division and uncertainty have defined the human condition since Cain slew Abel. Yeats wrote “The Second Coming” in 1919 in the dark days following the First World War and the Easter Rising in his native Ireland. Which is to say, we’ve been here before.

But, courtesy of the same technology that divides us, perhaps never in history have so many people around the globe been so intensely and simultaneously engaged in the big, difficult moral questions about what it means to be human. At its core, the discussion has evolved from justice and human rights for certain people, to justice and human rights for all people. It has evolved from the often violent protection of property rights for some, to protecting our entire planet for all who inhabit it.

Surely the depth and breadth of this worldwide discussion marks a sea change in the long, messy march of human development. Still, it’s easy to be pessimistic, to think it’s all too little too late, especially with so many of the political and other institutions we traditionally rely on now beset by apparent chaos and inertia. But such institutions always lag behind human aspirations. True hope springs elsewhere. In fact, it springs from the same place that has always given birth to real human progress – in the daily acts of resistance and the daily acts of kindness and generosity of so-called ordinary people.

Once again as the dark days of winter close in, we take the opportunity to celebrate a few of those “ordinary” people who shine brightly in our own community. Among them, Nancy Urekar who has marched down Broadway every Friday this year, carrying a sign demanding action on climate change. Jennifer Payne and Marci Lipman who advocate tirelessly for a sustainable local food system. Mary Balinov and her family and Ellen Downey who lend a helping hand to those struggling with more than the usual of life’s challenges. And our other “Local Heroes,” whose passion and commitment are an inspiration for all of us to sustain the motivating hope that, as another poet once said, springs eternal in the human breast.

About the Author More by Signe Ball

Signe Ball is publisher/editor of In The Hills.

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