Four Reasons for Hope

A few mornings ago, I awoke with a few linked and disparate thoughts about hope and despair, which I’ll attempt to share.

Sculpture in Castlegar, British Columbia 2022-10-20 bruce witzel photo

Recently I’ve been reading the Book of Hope by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams (with Gail Hudson) – subtitled, A Survival Guide for Trying Times. Published in 2021, the book is gleamed from dialogue between the co-authors in the two years prior to the current global pandemic.

The story begins at Jane’s home in Dar es Salaam, where Douglas had just arrived. He writes in this opening section, What is Hope, that “I had to admit I was suspicious of hope… I was afraid of false hope, that grim imposter. Even cynicism felt safer in some ways than taking the risk of hope.”

Despairing - bruce witzel photo

He tells Jane the joke about the difference between an optimist and a pessimist. The optimist thinks this might be the best of all possible worlds, and the pessimist fears the optimist is right.

Jane laughs. “We do not really know how it will turn out, do we? And we can’t just think we can do nothing, and everything will work out for the best.”

Douglas recalls how Archbishop Desmond Tutu had once told him that optimism can sometimes quickly turn to pessimism. Hope, Tutu said, is a much deeper source – practically unshakable. When a journalist once asked Tutu why he was optimistic he replied that he wasn’t – rather,       “I am a prisoner of hope” he said, quoting the biblical prophet Zechariah. Tutu said hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.

Bruce (best edit) looking out the sea cave at San Josef Bay (for blog) 2022-11-16 Keith Launer photo

As the book unfolds Jane focuses on “Four Reasons for Hope”:

1. The Amazing Human Intellect,


2. The Resilience of Nature,

3. The Power of Young People,

4. The Indomitable Human Spirit.

The book concludes with “Becoming a Messenger of Hope.”  This, I’m working on.

Bruce having lunch at Sheep River 2022-10-19

Jane mentions one of her heroes as Albert Schweitzer – a musician, humanitarian, physician, and a theologian. Indeed, a Lutheran Minister. In his own way, Schweitzer speaks of hope:

No ray of sunlight is ever lost,

but the green it wakes needs time to sprout

Sunrise 2022-11-1 bruce witzel photo

and it’s not always granted the sower to live to see the harvest.

One of our new trails at the lake Oct. 29, 2022

All work that is worth doing is done in faith.

To be fully human, we need hope. Jane Goodall gives four good reasons. And yet, in our being human there are moments when despair overwhelms us. What about those times?

Wendell Berry states the antidote – one we do well to turn to during these trying times – no matter what, or when. It’s written all around us.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

Wildfowl in Creston Valley

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

Butterfly taking flight from sweet william - bruce witzel photo

I come into the peace of wild things

who do not tax their lives with forethought

of grief. I come into the presence of still water.

A view from our deck on a star filled night in September, 2014 (best) - bruce witzel photo

And I feel above me the day-blind stars

waiting for their light. For a time

I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

In faith, love (and hope)

~ Bruce ~

Bruce observing Sea Stacks at San Josef Bay, North Vancouver Island 2022-11-16 Keith Launer photo


12 thoughts on “Four Reasons for Hope

  1. So beautiful, Bruce. I tend to be an optimistic personality, and for years I’ve said that “I live on hope.” That’s generally true, but like all of us, there are times when that is less true, and I can despair and let the fears and “what ifs” overtake me. I think that Wendell Berry’s words are transformative. I think Jane Goodall’s book sounds like an important read. Thank you.

    • Your welcome Debra. As I read the book(well, I’m actually not quite finished) the dynamic of the between the co-authors rang true for me. Abrams questionibg skeptism, with Goodall’s then highlighting many examples from throughout the world of hope in action… the ones that never make headlines. Definitely it inspired me to share it. Also, not a complicated or lengthy book. It was like being able sit and absorb fascinating and caring coversation between two friends.

  2. I hope one day to master this clucking cell phone. My response went under Rosaliene’s comment, but it was intended for anyone who cares.

    Happy holidays to all. I hope all people, animals, and the earth itself can continue the evolving process of rejuvenation and renewal.

  3. This is beautiful Bruce, both your discussion of the book by Jane Goodall, and the wisdom of Jane herself. Thank you also for your excellent photos, as always. They are fitting reminders of a Sense of the Sacred.
    Blessings for your generous sharing, both of your reading discoveries as well as you own talents.

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