#BlogElul 25: Begin
This year's new year's poem

#BlogElul 26: Hope


I live in hope. I always hope that a better world is possible; that we can change and grow; that we can make better decisions tomorrow than we made yesterday. I always hope that peace is possible, even in the most entrenched conflicts. I always hope for something better than what we know now.

In classical Jewish tradition there's a strong strain of messianic hope. Today different branches of Judaism speak in different terms -- the days of moshiach, the messianic age, that day to come when all of our broken places will be restored -- but although our framing language differs, our hope is the same. Hope for a world redeemed. Hope for healing. Hope for something better than what we know now.

I hope that humanity is on a trajectory toward wisdom and compassion and that we can each do our small part to help humanity along that path. In the words of the reverend Martin Luther King, z"l (quoting earlier minister Theodore Parker), "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice." Or at least -- I believe that we can bend it toward justice. It's not an automatic trajectory; it's not as though, having started in this direction, we're inevitably going to reach the finish line.

(I'm also not always convinced that there is a finish line -- I think this may be more of an asymptotic curve, in which we we strive to move ever closer to redemption and wholeness, and what matters isn't whether we "get there" but how we choose to act along the way.)

But I hope that we can make choices in our individual lives -- and in the aggregate, through the leaders we choose and the policies we support -- to nudge humanity away from fear and a zero-sum mentality, and toward love and kindness and a consciousness of abundance in the world. There is plenty of everything we need in this world, if we can only learn how to share. It's human nature for those who have, to want to have more; and for those who don't have, to yearn to have. But there has to be a better way than what we've known in the world so far. And that's where hope comes in. Logic might argue that humanity will always behave as humanity has always behaved -- in ways which are generally self-centered. But I choose to hope for better.

I don't know that my hope actually makes a difference in the world at large. But it makes a difference to me. If I live in hope -- that those who are unkind will learn to be kind; that those who are unjust will learn to be just -- then I can face the world every morning with gratitude and welcoming. And that in turn enables me to do my own small part to make my hopes come true.