Derrick Jensen has written a stirring diatribe against hope:
[H]ope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless....To hope for some result means you have given up any agency concerning it. Many people say they hope the dominant culture stops destroying the world. By saying that, they've assumed that the destruction will continue, at least in the short term, and they've stepped away from their own ability to participate in stopping it.I think Jensen is a bit over the top when he argues that hope is inherently an obstacle to action, rather than a too-common substitute for it. And I can't think of any logical or metaphysical reason why hoping for a given result should mean that one has "given up any agency concerning it." Whether you look at this claim semantically or practically, it's pretty goddamn silly.
I do not hope coho salmon survive. I will do whatever it takes to make sure the dominant culture doesn't drive them extinct....When we realize the degree of agency we actually do have, we no longer have to "hope" at all. We simply do the work. We make sure salmon survive. We make sure prairie dogs survive. We make sure grizzlies survive. We do whatever it takes.
My view is that Jensen won't actually "do whatever it takes" to make sure coho salmon aren't driven to extinction. For one thing, he can't know which course of action will be successful; he can only hope he chooses the right one.
Further, the fact that Jensen wrote this piece implies that he hopes it will inspire people to take action. But that hope doesn't mean he gave up any agency. On the contrary, I'd imagine he wrote his article as carefully and thoughtfully as he could, in the hope that it would have the greatest possible effect on people. (If he didn't, he should've.)
Communication - writing, in particular - is a good example of how hope and agency are not only not mutually exclusive, but are often shackled together, for better or worse. Few people hope more fervently - or more irrationally - than those who wish to do things with words.
Jensen goes on to say:
I have no patience for those who use our desperate situation as an excuse for inaction. I've learned that if you deprive most of these people of that particular excuse they just find another, then another, then another. The use of this excuse to justify inaction—the use of any excuse to justify inaction—reveals nothing more nor less than an incapacity to love.Alright, then. You do what it takes. The question is, what does it take?
[I]f you love, you act to defend your beloved. Of course results matter to you, but they don't determine whether or not you make the effort. You don't simply hope your beloved survives and thrives. You do what it takes. If my love doesn't cause me to protect those I love, it's not love.
On that note, let's retreat from cold hard reality, and seek shelter in the world of dreams:
Residents of the province of Quebec (Canada) may no longer smite their dandelions with 2,4-D, the herbicide found in popular lawn and garden products such as Green Cross Killex. The ban results as Quebec enacts the third and final phase of its Pesticides Management Code, which was launched in April 2003. The code is considered the toughest in North America and bans 20 active ingredients found in more than 200 products sold for cosmetic use in lawns and gardens.Meanwhile, in Massachusetts:
The Natick Conservation Commission voted unanimously last week to deny the state's request to use herbicides to treat the fast-growing Eurasian milfoil that is clogging the lake.Admittedly, these are small victories. Not as small as this one, though:
A Jupiter man spotted a dead pelican in a Palm Beach pine tree, and a nonprofit seabird rescue organization took flight. "I couldn't believe my eyes," said Dimitri Gregorieff, then a Café L'Europe waiter. "I stood there for a few minutes and said, 'This can't be happening. It's just not right"....Which is the point of this weekly (sort of) feature. It's not about saving the world; it's about the painfully slow process by which we come to understand that the world needs saving. It's not about documenting technological breakthroughs; it's about documenting individual decisions to do things differently, or - failing that - to try to do things differently.
So the one-man Seabird Rescue Foundation volunteer would drive almost daily to marinas and piers and transport injured pelicans to area wildlife hospitals that treat them for free.
"One man is better than nobody," Gregorieff said.
But enough about that. Here are some magic lantern slides:
I hope you like them.