“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.”
~ Michelle Obama
It may be an understatement that we live in very troubled times. I know from my study of history and my daily history blog, “John’s Believe It Or Not,” that every era has had its troubles, yet the present seems especially fearful. The fact that the leader of the free world exacerbates the issues plaguing humanity gives one pause. How can there be hope for progress and a better future when a narcissistic megalomaniac has been allowed to run amok in the White House?
When I was a high school student in the 1960s, I read that scientists believed that the world would soon go beyond the point of no return in terms of environmental damage. Today not much has changed in how world economies operate and there are studies that claim that we are only a few decades from the next natural crisis that will result in massive extinctions. We are witnessing extreme weather events intensified by the global warming that we caused. Yet, Trump and other ‘leaders’ tell us that global warming is bogus – fake news!
While racist-driven conflicts occur with regularity in the US, Trump is unwilling to condemn the alt-right groups that instigate them. Instead, he rails against the North Koreans, heaping insults on their megalomaniac leader, and at the same time, he picks a fight with pro sports as players protest against racism. I could go on, but what we have here is a man who sews division and intolerance every single day in his own country, and, more dangerously, around the world.
The situation seems lost because we have an inexperienced leader who will not listen to reason. It makes me anxious and fearful about the immediate future. I’m also tempted to give in to the negativity and resign myself to despair. Is there no hope?
I found this quote by Michelle Obama as part of her keynote address at the Young African Women Leaders Forum in South Africa in 2011. Her words fit today’s circumstances rather well. I found myself buoyed by her belief in the power of courage and hope.
However, her central message is that you and I who are citizens of our many countries have critical roles to play as agents of change. I am not a political leader or a multi-billionaire but Mrs. Obama rightly points out that as a thinking, caring citizen of the world, I have an important role to play as the future unfolds.
My life experience as a teacher, author, and blogger gave me the opportunity to acquire communication skills and a soapbox. The Internet allows me to publish my words on a daily basis and that presents both an opportunity and a responsibility. All that is required is that I defy the fear that gnaws at my soul and summon the courage to be a harbinger of hope.
Despite all the nasty rhetoric and sensationalist news reporting that I see and hear every day, the former First Lady of the United States uttered a phrase that ignited hope in my heart, “courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” I never looked at it quite that way before!
In actual practice, what does this mean? If I am to be an agent of change, I must have the courage to reject the negativity and be a voice of positivism. In doing that, others will take heart and apply the lesson in their own lives. The resulting positive attitude is shared and it spawns hope for a better tomorrow, and that hope will grow exponentially in the hearts of other courageous men and women. One becomes many. Many can bring about great change.
There is so much good in humanity! We are rational beings of free will and capable of so much love. History gives testimony to this fact. It is also true that humans are capable of perpetrating horrifying evil as well. We all have both sides of that human nature within us – like it or not, it is our birthright.
The choice is ours. Let us reach out to each other and forge a better tomorrow.