Getting out of the sewer and organising change

Michael Herman has a lovely post highlighting ideas from Vaclav Havel. Reflecting on escaping from a sewer Havel talks about the role of hope:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It’s not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. It is this hope, above all, that gives us strength to live and to continually try new things, even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now. In the face of this absurdity, life is too precious a thing to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily, without meaning, without love, and, finally, without hope.

Michael adds:

Some talk of “culture change” but culture is what we all create together, what we all agree and reinforce with each decision, what is good and right. We can make grand plans and designs, but it’s the absurdity of taking immediate next steps, into those designs, that depends on hope, stepping into the absurdity of doing this one little thing in the face of the great need or plan or vision.

I really like this way of thinking, and the willingness to embrace the absurd.

1 thought on “Getting out of the sewer and organising change

  1. Earl Mardle

    Joyce quotes St Thomas Aquinas as saying “credo quia absurdum est”, I believe BECAUSE it is absurd. (It may go back to Tertullian) The point being that if God could be scientifically proven there would be no need for faith. Not to mention the damage that would do to the Church.

    For at least a third of my life I have accepted that the universe IS absurd and that humanity’s greatest triumph is that we have been able to invest it with meaning.

    Like all apparent contradictions of entropy, we can only do it locally and unreliably, but somehow we have managed it. At first we invented the gods whose meanings were written in the facts of the world for us to devine; then we came up with science where we had the temerity to test the gods.

    Then we came up with experimental cosmology and particle physics and went straight back down the rabbit hole. If you haven’t watched the Horizon doco called “What is reality?”, do yourself a favour.

    At the end they canvass the latest possibility that the universe is a hologram. Returning BTW to the Hindus who suggested some 5,000 odd years ago that everything is an illusion.

    And yet, in the face of that, women in Afghanistan and all over Africa and the poorest parts of Alabama, get up every morning to feed their kids and clean their homes as a way to create, out of nothing, or less, meaning.

    Havel knew a bit about that too eh?


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