Agency and Hope

25 August 2022

When day comes, we step out of the shade,

aflame and unafraid,

the new dawn blooms as we free it.

For there is always light,

if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

From “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman

Welcome (back) to Carleton for a promising and challenging new year! The major critical issues that are facing this country and world are indeed daunting. I’ve talked with people who are overwhelmed, anxious, cynical, or despairing about their ability to do anything about these concerns. So I’ve been thinking how I find hope and realize that it’s often when I take action on an issue, alongside others. And because the important issues of today are in many ways connected, that action links me to others who are working on different concerns or have different approaches. I come to see the vast network of people working to make our world a better place. That gives me hope.

Sometimes that work might concern ourselves, such as gaining the education or the mental and physical health to be able to live and engage more fully. Sometimes that work is for our family and friends, helping them to be their best selves. Sometimes that work is on a campus or local issue—or something that affects the whole world. Whatever it is, taking action gives us a sense of agency. It connects us to others and gives us hope. It gives us the courage to see the light and be the light.

The arc of the universe does bend toward justice—but it doesn’t bend by itself. In a myriad of ways, we can each help to bend it. Join us for some of our many programs in the Chapel this term as we seek to understand our own and others’ values and beliefs, and put them into action together, building hope and increasing the light.

Carolyn Fure-Slocum, College Chaplain