Image description: A large airplant on a wall of plants. Text reads: “Do not be afraid. Do not be cynical. Continue to trust in yourself and others. Continue to dream of collective liberation. – scott crow”

I rarely say anything like, “Do not be afraid. Do not be cynical.”

I believe in the radical power of the gloom and the shadowed heart. I believe that negativity has a place in this world, and that when we reject it in favour of forced and weaponized positivity, we lose out on so much – we lose the richness of our sadness, our grief, our rage, our despair.

There is hope to be nurtured and cultivated in the moments of hopelessness – we become hopeless because we want better for ourselves, hope is embedded in the hopelessness.

There is desire in despair – we become despairing because we desire something better, something more just, something sweeter and more sustainable.

Today, I flipped open Joyful Militancy, and read scott crow’s quote – “Do not be afraid. Do not be cynical. Continue to trust in yourself and other. Continue to dream of collective liberation.” – and it hit me right in the heart.

Instead of landing as a weaponized admonition, as I often find these kinds of directives, this came as a reminder of the self that is absent but implicit in my fear, my cynicism, my distrust, my scarcity feardreaming. I think that so many of us are experiencing so much fear these days.

As Nick Montgomery and carla bergman write in Joyful Militancy, “Many people’s impulse is to mistrust others from the start, and it makes sense, given that many of us have been living Hobbes’ dream, made real, for centuries. Most everyone we know has been touched by some kind of oppression and abuse, and Empire’s oppressive divisions often lead people to betray even their most intimate relations.”

But they also write about the radical potential of trust and responsibility, and about how trust and responsibility can be a powerful antidote to the mistrust and violence of life under oppression.

This quote reminds me, today, that I am capable of joyfulness and hope, even in moments of despair and fear.

There is a self who is not afraid – who is willing to act with courage even when fear is present.
There is a self who is not cynical – who is willing to open to joy even when disillusionment is present.
There is a self who trusts, myself and others – who is willing to allow for mistakes and imperfection, and to come back to trust, to do the work of building, sharing, and repairing trust even when betrayal or hurt is present.
There is a self who dreams of collective liberation, even when incredible oppression is present.

Maybe that self exists for you, too.

(This post is an expansion of today’s Tender Year post.)