HARRINGTON: Hope is all we have

I’ll say this — looking for a job at the end of the world is an odd feeling. As I sort through page after page of LinkedIn postings and rejection emails, my mind can’t help but linger on the apocalyptic circumstances of the world around me. The rising threat of white nationalism, ecological disaster looming larger and larger on the horizon and the impending collapse of the fundamentally unjust economic system of this country are existential threats I’ve grappled with every day these past four years. How can I plan for my future when this dark cloud hangs so low and so ominously over the days to come?

The answer is simple: hope.

I don’t know if we as a species can correct our path and right the wrongs that plague this world — but we have to believe that it’s possible. To surrender to nihilism is to surrender one’s ability to believe in a brighter future, and in turn, the ability to realize that future. I was close to giving up two years ago, with the election of a quasifascist to the highest office in the nation.

What blossomed in the wake of that national embarrassment, however, was a truly beautiful sight. Men and women from all backgrounds and beliefs began to organize in solidarity with one another to defend our rights and let the powers that be know that we would not surrender in the face of doom and gloom.

As dark as the shadows that encroach may be, we must persevere and make our voices heard. If these threats to our future are so titanic and so immediate, then resignation and apathy can not — and will not — save us. While the winds of change may be blowing through the halls of Congress and across the campaign trails, our elected officials are not the Avengers and cannot just snap away the looming threat of annihilation. Protests for smarter and safer gun laws or environmental protections cannot end with a change in administration, and more of the same type of governance we’ve seen these past fifty years will only send us further down the path of destruction.

This is not simply a call for the youth to rise to the occasion and become more engaged — this is a rallying cry for all of us, everywhere, to look to the horizon not in fear, but in anticipation and optimism. We will undoubtedly endure greater and greater hardships in the days and years to come, but we must soldier on. The oceans may be rising and the middle class may be all-but-vanished, but our innate human will to survive cannot and must not be overtaken by the cancer of despair.

I understand that we must maintain some semblance of structure in our lives and that the work of an activist is never finished. However, there is a better way to live and it will not be achieved through avenues of indifference. In our information-laden modern world, we can do more than receive news about the latest example of sexual tyranny from a Hollywood executive or watch in horror as an innocent black man is murdered by law enforcement. We can research groups and individuals who are working to secure and protect justice and equality for us all and we can engage in these fights through whatever means we can. This is greater than the fad of the #Resistance — this is the fight of our lives, for our lives.

Economic injustice, environmental decay and a basic lack of love for the common man are undeniable truths of the modern world — but they do not have to be permanent fixtures of the future. We must take the initiative to organize, protest, unionize, register, educate and act. We cannot afford to do nothing.