Keeping Hope, Shedding Complacency.

by Chris Kamalski

How do you encourage people to keep their hope, but not their complacency? [Barbara Kingsolver]

A semi-nasty bout of flu + fever (hopefully brought on by the imminent arrival of spring!) kept me prone most of today, trying to prevent getting sicker before the week has really begun. This afforded me a rare privilege throughout the morning though: An uninterrupted chunk of time to read and ponder, oblivious to the world around me. I’ve been slowly working my way through Barbara Kingsolver’s memoir of her family’s journey to live off their farm, as ‘locavores’ for an entire year. It’s been a really thought-provoking book that is pushing both Maxie and I slowly towards taking ownership of our own food intake (First step for us in the right direction: Heading to the best Farmer’s Market in Pretoria, ‘the Boermark,’ every few Saturdays for an increasing amount of our produce, meat, and the best Protea flowers around). A bit evangelistic in its fervor towards all things local, but really convicting and interesting all the while.

Late in the book, Kingsolver quoted a friend of hers named Joan who was making a documentary about climate c hange at the time this book was written. Regarding environmental concerns, her friend asked her, How do you encourage people to keep their hope, but not their complacency? I was stunned at the complexity, yet conviction, found in such a simple sentence. That truly is the question we all must wrestle with in regards to any belief we consider important enough to act out in our lives. I think this may be a central question regarding issues of poverty and injustice in particular: Given the crushing realities of global poverty, how does one continue moving forward while fighting off a mounting cynicism + complacency at how little actually changes?

My two cents: Maybe we think small, local even. One life at a time…

(If you missed our latest [Field Stories] report on our work with inmates in prison, entitled “Refusing To Perish,” click here).