Ignite Hope is a conundrum. Ignite Hope is the conundrum in which several contrasting ideas live side by side with each other.
It’s the belief, for example, that no amount of human activity can bring about our desired world … and yet our hope allows us to be confident of attaining it. That my vision of the world is the right one … although your vision of that world has equal claim. That there is unspeakable tragedy in the world right now … and yet there is also remarkable good and benevolence. How are these notions reconciled?
This is our challenge — a challenge not unlike the world we live in: a complex place of continual change, self-renewal, and reinvention. Where the beauty and diversity of the planet that sustains us exist in stark contrast to the evils that dehumanize us: war, hunger, poverty, disease, ignorance, intolerance, hatred, isolation, fear, and despair.
It has been said of Jesus that his genius lay in being able to keep in his mind two conflicting thoughts at the same time: “We have already done enough,” and “We have never done enough.” Our challenge is to acknowledge the authenticity of similar contradictions in the world that we live in; to listen, to think — and to ultimately push back against the forces that would keep us from building a more compassionate, forgiving, and loving world. Because while each hopeful act we perform is its own reward, it is also a building block, however small, in the realization of God’s vision on earth.
A mission worthy of our lives.
At the heart of the conundrum that is Ignite Hope is the contrast between what we experience in the world today and the possibility of a dramatically different, and better, future.
But our experience is complex and ever-changing, just like the world itself. Our world is a place of astonishing natural beauty and a miraculous diversity of life. It has everything necessary to sustain life, and, with proper stewardship, surely enough for everyone. And yet, in the midst of this paradise, we see an ongoing struggle between generosity and greed; a tension that seems to be a part of human nature itself.
Our spiritual traditions tell us that we can be the glimmers of hope in the midst of the darkness. Many people are already working individually and collectively to alleviate suffering and improve conditions for those who need it, wherever they may be across the globe.
This is a mission that has special meaning for people of faith. In the Christian tradition, for example, the concept of the kingdom of God, while sometimes misinterpreted as existing only in an afterlife, compels every Christian to work to bring about this better future “on earth.” The Project to Ignite Hope is itself the direct result of the efforts of a growing movement of progressive Christians of different denominations, sponsored by Vesper Society and joined by the international laity community, to more actively advance this idea, which has broadened to encompass all faith traditions and people of good will.
How do we proceed from here? Moving from what we have to what we want means keeping the essential humanity we have been given, and acting on the best of it. We are the rays of light that make it happen. This is a mission worthy of our lives.