Community Building

Community Development: How to Maintain Hope

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Hope is a very important part of community development. If it is not nurtured on a daily basis, all the negativity we are bombarded with will take over. And there is a lot of negativity, both obvious (the news) and obscure (ads implying that we are not good enough without said product or service).

But let’s not be negative about that, shall we?

While there are super pessimists and impossibly optimistic optimists out there, most of us range somewhere in the middle of the continuum between these two extremes. We tend to float between having hope for a better future—be it for ourselves, for our families, or for community development—and throwing our hands up in the air, certain that absolutely nothing can change and that humans as a species are doomed to extinction at our own hands.

I’m sorry to say that there doesn’t seem to be a magical cure to feeling despair. Achieving hope and nurturing it takes a lot of patience and time as well as a lot of help.

So what can we do?

Thankfully however, it is relatively simple to achieve and maintain hope. Other than journaling and mantras, two personal techniques often discussed on this blog, we have the strength that being part of a group can provide. In the area where I live, a small group of us who believe in contributing to community development get together regularly either to pray, to consult on what we can do, or to debrief on what we have done. What with the increase in the last two years in violent acts perpetrated against innocents all over the world, many of these get-togethers become impromptu therapy/cheer-up sessions. Just last Saturday, a prayer gathering became a source of strength to those of us who had felt recently the weight of the various terror attacks.

One doesn’t even need an entire group to get the support needed. A friend of mine mentioned that when she feels down and out, she calls up 2-3 of her friends and invites them out for a weekend afternoon coffee. She point-blank tells them how down she is feeling, but however dark and dire the situation, the small group somehow manages each and every time to fill her with hope.

And it doesn’t take much, really, to help someone who is feeling down. Sometimes all you need is a group of friends to acknowledge how you feel then completely ignore it as they drag you along a much cheerier path. But one thing is becoming clearer and clearer to me: we cannot and should not be doing this alone.

Image courtesy of Death to Stock.

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