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In Seeming Chaos, Hope

I gave a lot of thought today about hope and its lack of it. I do not confuse hope with positivity and positive mindset. Instead, I understand hope as grounded in reality. Emily Dickinson described it as “the thing with feathers,” suggesting we cannot fully describe it. Its ineffeable nature creates a metaphoric meaning for each of us. Without dreams and hope, Langston Hughes cautions “life is a broken-winged bird/that cannot fly.” With hope and dreams of previous enslaved generations, Maya Angelou repeats the title of her poem “I Rise” as a prayer and refrain against hopelessness.

Too often, people want to pigeon-hole others in binary and dichotomous ways e.g. conservative or progressive. It appears easier and less ambiguous if we can label someone, somehow providing a sense of stability about who this or that person is. What we mis-understand is “and” means something. It acknowledges how complex each human is. We are not usually one thing or the other. Instead, we are mingling of things, experiences informing how we live, and the context within which we live. I want to conserve things e.g. Nature and, at the same time, progress e.g. equity regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, etc. Neither is premised on political or, in our case, reality TV, sloganeering.

Paulo Freire and bell hooks write about hope, unconditional love, and dialogue in educating children, youth, and adults. I think the critical theory is incorrect. What they propose is critical pedagogy/andragogy where I ground dialogue in listening with lovingkindness to those with different lived-experiences. In mindful, non-judgemental listening, I seek to open up space where the Other shares their reality and wisdom. In acknowledgeing the humanity of the Other and greeting them in dignified silence, I might offer the fragile hope so needed in today’s world. Imagine a world where we greeted one another with dignity, rather than making up slick political mottos and creating disparaging nicknames that assault others?

I wrote this poem after a long, hard day. I thumbed through some right-brain scribbles and this was the result.

Even in chaos, hope–

Faith springing forth,

Beloved Other sharing wisdom:

What do we hold in common.

Communal rhythm,

Symphonic voices arising–

Loving harmonies;

Binding and healing.


Giving dignity–

Acknowledging shared ground.

Holding each Other gently,

Unsure together–

Breaking bread

Being safe in this space.

This was the first secular song I heard in church. It was the late 1960’s. Today, I think we do need mountains we have bulldozed, meadows we have paved over, and water we have contaminated. Having said this, we need love and hope equal measure to make those things happen.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

15 responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing your profound words of hope. Stay safe

  2. I understand what you’re saying but when people hold power OVER your life and what happens to you, things change radically. That’s what we’re dealing with right now. Not hope for the world or our neighbors, but hope to stope a strangle hold, a loss of even more human rights and the little freedom we’ve been led to believe we have. This isn’t just a discussion, it’s a fight for equality and fairness, such as it it. It’s fighting AGAINST being enslaved by a mentally ill egomaniac, who doesn’t care who DIES, when he could stop that from happening. So I don’t think there’s any way to think about hope. We simply need to get him out of office and the republicans with him. There is NO HOPE for trump and his minions. None at all.

    • I agree with you about the place we find ourselves in and this applies to Canada. If Trump has a second term and continues with the downward slide, there are some here that will look at it and adopt his and his minions methods to achieve their ends. The challenge is to find hopeful and dialogic spaces.

  3. Romans 8: 23-25….hope seen isn’t hope…but we wait patiently for it! Good Post, Ivon !

  4. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  5. I am hopelessly hopeful…I also like a plan ☺️🤓 thanks for sharing your words Ivon ~ sending joy and hope Hedy ☺️💫🤗

    • It could be we arae Canadian and that factors into the equation. I have been thinking a lot about what goes into being “hopelessly hopeful.” A colleague and I are publishing a chapter using Freire and his Pedagogies of Hope and Freedom. I convinced Jayne to drop Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It seemed to work.

      Take care and thank you Hedy

  6. “What do we hold in common.” That is the question and the answer. Great post Ivon. C

  7. Pingback: Medicine Wheel | Teacher as Transformer

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