Josie Johnson has worked for more than 70 years to protect voting rights for all and to help African Americans in Minnesota reach equality in housing and education. Over these long years, she says, she has learned that “hope is a discipline.” It’s not a flimsy wish sent out toward the far horizon. Rather, like all disciplines, hope requires hard, often tedious and repetitive work with little or no apparent success. By contrast, hope’s opposites—despair, or worse yet cynicism—are easy. All we have to do is give up the struggle, concluding that nothing will ever change. That, of course, guarantees that injustice, cruelty, and oppression of all kinds will go on their brutal way unchallenged. To resist the slide into despair, hope needs a community. It’s like a marathon where runners need companions to cheer them on when they ” hit the wall.” And, like Josie Johnson, we know that God, who never gives up hope, is running with us.
By Mara Faulkner, OSB