Critical thinking without hope is cynicism, and hope without critical thinking is naïveté." - - Maria Popova
I started my Monday morning off with an incredible "On Being" podcast interview of Maria Popova from Brain Pickings. She dropped a line in her conversation that struck me with it's truth - "critical thinking without hope is cynicism, and hope without critical thinking is naïveté."
Wow. How resounding is that?
Her insight got me thinking about the power of hope. At times that faithful optimism can be ungrounded, disconnected from what is happening in the world, or it is blind to a reality it doesn't want to see. And at the same time hope is an essential ingredient in any kind of progress, innovation, creativity, and leadership that is moving the world forward forward.
Why else would we try anything bold or new if we didn't hold out some form of belief that it can mean something?
Too often our prevailing culture / media fall into cynicism .. we deem hope as naive, fluffy and demote it to the words of cliche speeches. We have to give that gig up, along with our dreams and our own voice.
But hope is in fact courageous, especially when we combine it with critical thinking, as Maria suggests. That is because it is actually more challenging to choose hope in the face of all the negativity we see around us. If we pick hope, that means we cannot give up the fight and just accept the world as it is without having to try doing anything about it. We have to pick ourselves up from our setbacks and keep trying.
A wiser form of hope invites us to say "I see all the struggle, the obstacles, the hurt, the pain around me ... I know that I will most certainly go through all of that myself again ... and still ... I choose to embrace that something inside me that knows there is meaning here, and I can do something about it."
Finding our wise form of hope is insanely difficult, testing, and feels moronic at times. It is a journey to discover it for ourselves, and all the grappling we do to get there will most definitely transform the person we are and what we can accomplish in the world.
Founder of Mind Into Matter and lover of coffee, color, and passport stamps.