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Active Hope


When I consider the condition of our world, I think things are getting...


Better?

Worse?

Hopeful?

Unstable?

Overwhelming?


What word feels true for you in this moment?


With war raging in the Middle East, it is easy to look out at the world and get lost in the horror of it, or to turn away when you can’t look any longer. And in our own small orbit, in our work in birth, it’s just as easy to get lost or to turn away. Seeing challenging births, or worse yet, feeling that you’ve participated in someone else’s traumatic experience, facing the moral injury of a system that deeply serves neither families nor healthcare workers…In the face of all of this, do we dare to even hope for a more beautiful world, and for more of those beautiful births? How do we even begin? Systems thinker and longtime activist Joanna Macy orients towards hope for our future, not as a wish or a desire, but as a practice. Hope is not a passive experience, she asserts, it is an active process. We take in a clear view of reality (which undoubtedly includes acknowledging the pain of it) so we can identify what direction we hope things will go in. It is only then that we can take steps ourselves or the situation in that direction. This is active hope.


“Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act. When you recognize uncertainty, you recognize that you may be able to influence the outcomes–you alone or you in concert with a few dozen or several million others. Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable." -Rebecca Solnit

Systems thinker Ellen LaConte suggests great unravelings and great turnings have occurred many times through history, many of them before humans appeared on Earth, which she calls “Critical Mass.” Each time Critical Mass has been reached, living systems have self-organized through trial and error to find new ways to function and survive. When we see the healthcare system unraveling, we have to ask...where could this Critical Mass lead?


How might the way we support birth reorganize into something new? Our actions are a part of that reorganizing whether we like or not, so can we find opportunities to restore our passion...restore our profession...restore birth.

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