Apocalypse · Book Reviews

Active Hope: Review

Active HopeThe future starts here. If you are feeling overwhelmed by the many crises now afflicting our world, Active Hope will empower you to transform your life. Written by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, it is based on a process called the Work That Reconnects which provides the tools you need to face the mess we’re in without going crazy.

Climate change, economic meltdown, and the depletion of resources are pushing social structures to breaking point. Many fear that it may already be too late to change anything and that collapse is inevitable. Living day to day with this level of anxiety and uncertainty is debilitating and soul destroying. You need a way to cope without blocking it out or living in denial, and using the techniques of Active Hope you can find a way to live positively.

What is Active Hope?

Active Hope means taking action to work towards the kind of future you would like to have. In contrast, Passive Hope just sits about and waits for something external to change and bring about what you want. Active Hope involves three steps:

  1. Take a clear view of reality
  2. Identify what you hope for
  3. Take steps to move in that direction

When identifying your hopes, think about how you would like to see things done or the kinds of values you would like to see expressed, by you and in society. You don’t even need to feel particularly optimistic about the outcome. Even if you feel the situation is hopeless and we’re all doomed no matter what we do, you can still choose how to respond to that possibility. After all, you’re going to die some day, but that doesn’t mean you sit about waiting for it to happen. You live your life, despite the inevitable end of death.

The question is: what do you live for? Active Hope is about embodying the values you believe are worth living for. If you only act when you know for certain that you’ll succeed, you will never achieve anything.

The guiding impetus is intention; we choose what we aim to bring about, act for, or express. Rather than weighing our chances and proceeding only when we feel hopeful, we focus on our intention and let it be our guide.”

What can I do?

Everyone will have a different response to this crisis and we each must find our own way through. You will respond using your own set of skills, experience, and strengths, and no matter what you choose to do, the idea is to give it your best shot. You must rise to the occasion in a way that makes sense to you and your circumstances.

By participating in something meaningful, you’ll find a greater sense of purpose and connection with the world and your community. You may even find strengths and skills you didn’t know you had. We feel more alive when we tackle a problem rather than letting it drag us down.

Three Stories

The challenge of this time can be understood through three different stories. The first is Business As Usual where many believe there is nothing wrong with the way we are living and that we don’t need to change. The second is The Great Unravelling which says the first story is causing the crises of climate change, collapsing ecosystems, social inequality, and mass extinctions. This story can only end in disaster.

The third story is The Great Turning which is about acknowledging the reality of The Great Unravelling but not ‘letting it have the last word.’ The Great Turning is about finding new solutions and responses to living in a sustainable, life-affirming way. This is what Active Hope aims to do.

All three stories are happening at once and you must choose which one you want to inhabit.

Where will you put your energies?

I’ve also written a series exploring the themes of this book in more detail. Read the Active Hope series here

Find out more about Active Hope at www.activehope.info


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