We know we’re channelling our parents when we catch ourselves saying things like this, but it is true: How the year has flown. It’s Advent already, and soon we will be tucking into our turkey dinners and pulling crackers with our loved ones once again. Today this blog is exactly a year old, and it is with some small measure of pride that I can say that I have fulfilled my ambition of this time last year to post a daily update. So I suppose I owe thanks to you – the readers – for bearing with me as I have laboured to work out the thoughts that tend to keep me awake at night a lot longer than they should do. We’re not going to dwell on this anniversary, because today is also the beginning of Advent; it’s Hope Sunday, and if ever we needed hope – now is the time.

Hopefulness – that quality of having a deep, almost religious sense of the goodness of the future – is in short supply, and it isn’t the aim here to be pessimistic. Let’s begin with a qualifier. We’re not speaking about that common hope; the hope, for example, that it won’t rain tomorrow (fine chance), but rather the hope – or longing – that in the end justice will prevail and the good guys will win. Two things are weighing heavily on us all right now. Other than the personal burdens we are facing (which are real too), we are living in wartime and in the midst of a refugee crisis. Both in their own way have highlighted the tensions and injustices in the societies where we live – poverty, homelessness, and social inequality to name a few.

In our present reality, where power – especially the power to change things – has been very much taken from us and arrogated to nameless and faceless globalised bureaucracies, it is so easy to succumb to the hopelessness of our age; that pervading sense of dread that seeps into our lives from the media and an increasingly vapid manufactured culture. Hundreds of thousands of people, in our cities and towns, and on the borders of Europe, are crying out to us for a help we are apparently powerless to offer, and the pain of their voices is taking its toll on our hearts and minds. The violence of these times is perhaps a symptom of this collective strain. Our inability to follow the demands of our consciences has become a frustration which is acting out.

Where is hope? None of this awfulness is happening by accident. Politics, by its nature, is a premeditated and calculated science for the construction and control of society. Those with power have made the world the way that it is because this chaos somehow benefits their selfish interests, but knowledge of this is no cause for despair. What people have built, people can tear down and rebuild; this is to say that there is nothing inevitable or unchangeable about our political and social realities – and this is where our hope must begin. Acceptance of the status quo is the first step to death, but our rejection of it is the essence of an affirmation of life and change. First we must know, and not only know but inwardly be nourished by the knowledge, that a more just world can become a reality. Then knowing this, we must choose to live as though we are pregnant with that new world.

Jason Michael
Blog Author

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