Friday, January 08, 2021

HOPE as Cure

Like many of you I was greatly disturbed by the images I saw on January 6, 2021 as a terrorist mob invaded the United States Capitol, encouraged by the 45th President of the United States.

I've followed the responses on Twitter and Facebook and often added my own Tweets and reTweets to the noise. 

One Tweet from yesterday stood out and prompted me to write today's article. 

The result of having food, security, health, prosperity and knowledge is greater HOPE and Opportunity.  

A 'cost of poverty' report that I read in the 1990s shows that people living in areas of  high poverty who were without HOPE costs thousands of dollars more for public services than did those living in areas of poverty where HOPE and opportunity for advancement were present.  

I believe that kids who have support systems beyond the family and neighborhood provided by organized non-school tutor, mentor and learning programs feel more positive about themselves and have greater HOPE for their future and are less likely to become involved with negative behaviors.

I think the same would be true if people throughout the country who are marching in street protests against racism and police brutality, or who are occupying the halls of Congress and state capitols about the country, had greater HOPE for their own futures. 

If you've read any of the thousand-plus articles I've posted on this blog you will see that I use the word "hope" often, such as "I hope you'll read this and share it with others."

In my role as leader of the tutoring programs at Montgomery Ward, starting in 1975, and of the Tutor/Mentor Connection since 1993, I've been inviting others to join with me to create brighter futures for kids living in poverty.  

I created the image below to show a message I've repeated often since the 1970s.

I've seen the growing violence in America's cities and Chicago's neighborhoods since the 1970s and I've compared it to a snowball rolling down a mountain. I think this also applies to the growing support for the types of groups who organized the invasion of the halls of Congress this week. 

At the top of a mountain the snowball is small, and would be easy to stop. However, as it rolls further downhill, it gains momentum and is almost impossible to stop. When it reaches the valleys and homes at the bottom of the mountain, it destroys everything in its paths, including the homes of the wealthy, along with the poor.

I've feared for many years that the expanding sense of hopelessness growing among youth living in high poverty neighborhoods of Chicago and other cities would turn into violence toward others in the wider community, just as it already is destroying lives within poverty communities. I've seen terrorism grow around the world, and seen small sparks here in the US, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, and now the invasion of the Capitol. I've feared that we would reach a point where the work of volunteer tutors and mentors in non-school tutor/mentor programs would become too little, too late.

Thus, I've often told volunteers that we have two choices. You get in front of the snowball now, and try to stop it, and if no one else joins you, you'll probably be crushed by the on-coming avalanche.  Or you can wait until the snowball reaches the bottom of the mountain and you are certain to be destroyed, along with every thing you care for.

The first choice offers the opportunity, no matter how small it appears, that others will join you, and the snowball can be slowed, or even stopped. 

The second choice offers no hope.  Unless others do this work for you.

In 2017 my Facebook feed shared this video of His Holiness Pope Francis giving a TED talk. I watched it. I encourage you to look at it, too.

At one point in the video he talks about the responsibility for each of us to take on the role of the Good Samaritan, to help others who are in need.

At another he talks about HOPE, as "a humble, hidden seed of life that within time will develop into a large tree".   And he says, "A single individual is enough for HOPE to exist, and that individual can be YOU."

As the Pope said in this TED talk, "Each and every one of us can become a bright candle, a reminder that light will overcome darkness."

And he said "How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient word, were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default attitude in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships among individuals, peoples and countries."

That's been my goal with many of my articles, such as this where I include a concept map similar to the one below, that focuses on the planning required to make HOPE and OPPORTUNITY available in every zip code of America and around the world. 

The conditions that made people angry and desperate enough to fly to Washington, DC then attack and occupy the Senate and House chambers did not suddenly appear. They have been growing for many years, fueled by people with a sinister agenda.  The street protests following the George Floyd murder last year were also the result of long-term, unaddressed, grievances, also often fueled by greed, racisms and lusts for power. 

The web library I host is intended to provide information people can use to understand some of these problems, and to see how many are trying to solve them in different places.  If more people look at this information as often as some people watch TV sports, or read the BIBLE, then more people will be able to borrow ideas from some places and apply them in many other places, in an on-going cycle of constant improvement aimed at making HOPE and OPPORTUNITY available in every part of the US and the world.

This is the work required to "overcome darkness". 

I HOPE the Pope's message touches your heart and inspires you to reach out to offer your time, talent, dollars, leadership, advocacy and ideas in one, or more, of the many areas where you might make a difference.

If that's not enough, maybe what you watch on your TV news or read in social media will motivate you to help this bad news snowball from growing bigger and bigger until it destroys our country and our civilization. 

No comments: