‘Active hope’ springs eternal


Sir, – The regular (and sadly authentic) bleak assessments and forebodings on the climate and the planet are enough to churn even the most hopeful of souls among us (Joe Humphreys, “In despair over climate change? Try ‘active hope’”, Culture, January 8th).

“Active hope” appears to be the new elixir to sustain us through the rapids of despair.

The trick is to align one’s hope with personal intentions to do something, rather than think of “solving” anything, as the challenge would be too overwhelming.

I would proffer an additional dose of “warm melancholia”, which would consciously acknowledge the apparent “hopelessness” of the situation affording a genuine expression of same without disintegration of self. “Warm melancholia” is a benign form of realism, not rock-bottom forlornness.

It’s a state of bobbing comfortably in or around the Plimsoll line of contentment, albeit with a stark awareness of risk but also an avoidance of false optimism.

Life is always prone to vagary and vicissitude. After the variable struggles we have to handle, we all have to capitulate to our mortality.

Modern social pressures to be ultra-positive, to be constantly successful, to look perfect, do nothing for the realisation of life as it actually is.

So a dollop of “active hope” and “warm melancholia” in equal measure are your only man. Let’s sup wisely. – Yours, etc,



Co Waterford.