Welcome to Hope

A reply to Sarah Worthy’s comments on Chronophobia: Fear of the Future

Thanks for your comments, Sarah.

Just a pointer for you regarding reskilling. Amy Goldstein researched what happened in Janesville WI after the GM factory (and others) shut down (see Jennifer Senior reviews Amy Goldstein’s ‘Janesville’). The retraining didn’t go so well:

There’s scant evidence that job retraining, possibly the sole item on the menu of policy options upon which Democrats and Republicans can agree, is at all effective.

This is really a large ‘wicked’ problem, one that defies linear solutions, especially when we’re are grappling with the issues around people currently in the workforce, in contrast with children unborn.

One way to minimize fear of the future is to take a head-on approach to grappling with it, even if you are uncertain if what you are attempting will work. As Rebecca Solnit puts it,

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 recognise uncertainty, you recognise 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 the unknowable, an alternative to the certainty of both optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists adopt the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. It is the belief that what we do matters even though how and when it may matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.

So I have joined the third third, neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a hopist: those that hope, who hold out against despair and disengagement, even in the darkest days.

Written by

Work ecologist. Founder, Work Futures. The ecology of work and the anthropology of the future.

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