Contemporary sensibilities tend to prefer the nihilist abyss to such salvation, even as we pathetically pursue the latest "cure" for that emptiness—be that radical politics, surgical revisions to our anatomy, or compassionate medical assistance in dying. It looks patronizingly at best and with hostility at worst, at the idea that our modern despair should prompt some deep rethinking.
For Quinones, the twin opioid and meth epidemics have their origins in the destruction of community. The decline of local institutions creates a vacuum of isolation and hopelessness in which drugs can gain a foothold, despite all efforts to keep them out. Reading The Least of Us, one is struck again and again by the seeming futility of efforts to solve the drug problem by limiting the available supply of illicit substances.
Elizabeth Stice remembers the impact of the events of 9/11 on college students 20 years ago. Now a college professor, she considers the disillusionment of her own students, and how the Christian meta-narrative allows for hope in a broken world.
Lana Del Rey. Wendell Berry. Stephen King. Singer-songwriter. Poet-novelist-essayist farmer. Horror writer. What brings these three seemingly disparate artists together in my imagination? Hope.
Our trees are unlikely to make a measurable difference in global carbon dioxide levels, and they will not do anything to hasten the end of the coronavirus pandemic, but according to Wendell Berry, these facts have nothing to do whatsoever with whether or not our decision to plant trees is, as Kerstin declared, good.
Wilfred M. McClay, Bethany Hebbard, and Jake Meador consider what recent trends—considered at the local, regional, and global scales—give reason for hope in 2020.
Scialabba insists that our actions are meritorious and good if they are effective, if they transform society and lead to measurable improvements. Berry, on the other hand, upholds love as its own standard: human lives are good insofar as they participate in divine love’s redemptive work.
Events may soon conspire to force a conversation about the common good and the limits of power. Until that happens, gridlock may be the best option.
Progressives must re-learn to advocate for community self-determination, and work to link political activity on this level to national politics.
Three years ago, I could not imagine Ron Paul winning the CPAC straw poll. Now he has. The doom and gloom evoked by the rich and powerful are realities in a fallen world, but we should not fail to think about the good.
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