Recently, I watched an interview that Oprah did with Gloria Steinem, who at the time of the interview was eighty-one years of age. The interview was prompted by the release of Gloria’s new book My Life On The Road. It is the first book she has written in twenty years and it chronicles what she has learned from a lifetime of traveling the world.
As is often the case when I listen to an inspirational interview or a lecture, I came away with a thought provoking nugget that stayed with me and popped up in my meditation this morning. The interview is no longer available so I paraphrase here, but Oprah asked her a question about what is important to her. She answered “hope.” That really resonated with me.
I hope a lot these days. I hope for a day when tolerance of our differences will transcend into compassion and love. I hope for a day when our yearning for something more will ignite a collective voice that demands humanitarian action toward peaceful co-existence. I know that’s a lot to ask and I will admit that I am doubtful I will see it in my lifetime.
As I observe the horrific things humans do to each other in the name of religious belief or patriotism or, even worse, greed and lust for power, I sometimes think that I am far too optimistic in my dreams for a better world. Still, I always come back to hope. I can’t let it go. It sustains me when nothing else will.
Even as I occasionally feel hopelessness creeping in, I am always drawn back to the same place, to a place of inner yearning that inspires me to be a part of a shift in consciousness, to take a stand for what I believe. And what I believe is that we truly are in this together as a human race and that together we can make a powerful impact on the world through our thoughts and our actions. Hope shores up that belief.
I am finding through this meditation practice that my inner voice, and I daresay your inner voice as well, is meant to awaken us to the possibilities we can tap into as human beings. As I quieted my mind this morning and stayed present in the silence, I made space for hope to drift in. As I did so, I thought about how complacency can highjack our hopefulness and bury it deep within us.
As a quick perusal of the dictionary revealed, complacency can create a false sense of security, a feeling of self-satisfaction or contentment, especially when coupled with an unawareness of danger, trouble or controversy. For some of us that means we have some work to do to overcome complacency.
We may have to pry ourselves loose from media driven hype that encourages self-righteous indignation about topics that distract us from what’s really important. Perhaps we have to let go of laying blame and taking sides. In general, we may need to recognize when complacency has given us that false sense of security and numbed us to the possibilities as we ignore the atrocities happening outside of our comfort zones.
Most importantly, we have to find our way to an inner yearning for purpose, for something to get passionate about. That yearning has to say no to complacency and no to ignoring what is happening in our world. We have to say yes to hopefulness. And we have to allow our yearning for something better to ignite our passion and raise questions about what it is we are meant to do with our lives.
As I wrote this blog I was inspired to create a forum for sharing examples of human acts of caring and kindness, philanthropy and charity, and ways people are helping others in need. It is my goal to inspire people to first hope and then take action. I call it 365 Days of Hope. It will start on January 1, 2016.
I am grateful for Gloria Steinem’s wisdom. I am grateful that she shared how hope has sustained her, even as she travels the world and acknowledges the work that still must be done before humanity can live in peaceful co-existence. She inspires me toward hopeful anticipation of a day when people will go first to tolerance, then move to empathy and compassion and finally, as we yearn for purpose, realize that love is the only option we have when we wake up to our potential.
Here’s to hope!