Hope and Being a Warrior for the Human Spirit

Hope and Being a Warrior for the Human Spirit

A Story of Hope

“Have you been trying to get home for a while,” I asked the middle-aged woman sitting next to me on my monthly flight from Toronto to Halifax. Her voice told me that she was from the Maritimes. The Cape Breton lilt was undeniable in its cheeriness and lightness. “Yes, since Monday,” she replied. Air travel in the winter is fraught with uncertainty. The winter storm that hit Toronto two days before had paralyzed the airport, cancelling many flights. My seatmate spoke of her story of taking the bus back to her sisters for the night until she could rebook another flight. Then we continued the rest of the flight in silence.

The final approach and another brief exchange gave me permission to openly ask what brought her to Toronto, fully knowing that it’s not every day that a Cape Bretonner travels to Toronto. “Oh,” she replied, “it is a such a good story.” I was immediately intrigued and curious. She had a lovely open smile. Love poured out of her. I asked if she would share her story with me

Mary came to Toronto to find her son – in fact, her youngest son, who was addicted to heroin and fentanyl and had been living on the streets of Toronto for eight years. She had lost touch with him for several years; she didn’t even know if he was alive. “It is hard on a mother,” she explained. So, burdened with that pain, she packed her bags for Toronto, fully prepared to stake out homeless shelters and walk the streets in the hopes of finding him.

“Wow, that took a leap of faith and hope to just jump on a plane and travel across the country,” I exclaimed.

“I had heard that he was alive from a story on Facebook that found its way back to me. My son had done a good deed with someone returning some found money and the person wrote about how grateful he was that a homeless addict could be such a good samaritan,” Mary said. “On the first day, we went downtown to the homeless shelters. The staff let us stay around in the hope that my son would show up. He didn’t. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. We hung around all day. But it was getting dark and I was hungry. My sister suggested that we find a place to eat in the Eaton Centre before heading home for the night. We would start again in the morning. We had just come through the main doors on Dundas and Yonge, and there he was walking right towards us.”

My skin tingled with the synchronicity. I reflected to myself about the love between a mother and her son, so powerful, that it acted like a magnetic force bringing the two together in a downtown core of a million people.

Mary continued her story. “He was in bad shape. He had sores on his legs and his teeth were almost black. He looked like a ‘bum’. After the shedding of the tears, I told him that I would help him get well but he had to be serious about getting off the street. He agreed, and he came home to my sister’s house. We got him cleaned up and he is now on a bus to a treatment program out west. It only took us eight hours to find him.”

Being a Warrior for the Human Spirit

How can we maintain hope when all around us is chaos and destruction? This was the question posed to me that inspired my previous reflections on Hope as a psychological phenomenon. Not long after that blog was posted, I heard a podcast by Margaret Wheatley, who is an author, leader and social activist. She presented a dreary picture of the status of the world today.

In many areas of the world, the problems and the challenges are so great that it is highly possible that we have reached a tipping point, she says. So many big and challenging issues are beyond the political will and effort to address. Wheatley argues that we must give up our idealism and to not to be blinded by hope and optimism. Propelling ourselves on a myth of progress and hope that we will we see significant reinvention in our time is not realistic. According to Wheatley, we are working against the greater force of history and we are exhausting ourselves in the process.

This might sound ominous and much like a call for despair. There is certainly a lot to be fearful of. However, Wheatley also calls upon us to be warriors for the human spirit by embodying and living from the best of our human qualities – kindness, generosity, compassion and love.

Jung’s Words of HOPE

Decades ago, Carl Gustav Jung also recognized that we are living in political, economic and spiritually distressing times. He warned that the collective psychology can be suffocating for anyone wishing to stand against the tide of collective opinion. In Jung’s view, it is psychological self-knowledge and a deep understanding of ourselves that shields us from falling victim to mass-mentality. Even today, this is an ever-present danger with several movements currently sweeping through the collective psyche.

In embracing the path of psychological self-knowledge, we must contend with our animal instincts, our shadow, and our fantasies. We must also wrestle with the duality of the human psyche-the existence of good and evil in us all. Herein lies the hope for the human race. For Jung, the hope of the human race and the world at large depended ultimately on the inner work individuals do in their most intimate inner world.

Islands of Sanity

Margaret Wheatley speaks of creating islands of sanity – places where the best of human qualities is cultivated, supported and honoured. Where people find commonality in organizations or in communities towards being creative, generous, and kind toward each other. She says that it is a great and courageous act to consciously stand on the side of the best of humanity knowing that we can also be self-interested, narcissistic, brutal, and savage with one another.

Creating your own Island of Sanity

The world around us may be in chaos but we can still control our inner thoughts and how we react to the outside distractions. Inner peace, inner resilience and inner strength are what help us navigate our emotions through these trying times.

  • We can take vacations from watching and reading the news to get back to connected to what is important to us.
  • We can be focused on the beauty in the world recognizing the kindness and generosity that is present if we open our eyes.
  • We can find meaning in what we do and what we love.

Hope is in the small things

While the world has always been in chaos to some degree, we can try to make it a better place through our daily acts of kindness and compassion. Perhaps it’s a little change for the homeless man down the street, helping push a car out of the snow on a wintry day or even just buying a coffee for the next person in line; whatever it is, just remember that there are small moments in a day that can mean the difference to someone else.

Questions for Reflection

To find your moments of hope, take a few minutes in your journal to consider the following questions for reflection:

  • What do you find meaning in? If I were to ask you if you love what you do, what would your honest response be?
  • What is your “Island of Sanity?” If you don’t have one, I challenge you to create one for yourself.
  • Can you think of a story like the one I described at the beginning of this newsletter that provided you hope in a time of despair? If so, what about it gave you hope and how can you share that with others?

If you liked what you read here, please consider sharing it on your social media feeds using the share buttons below. I love reading your comments either by email or using the comments section below.

Christina Becker
c February 2018

  • Dana says:

    Beautiful story. I needed that, thank you Christina.

  • Michelle says:

    Inspiring and beautiful story, thanks for sharing!

  • Barbara Rodrigoe says:

    Hope in small things is a constant in my life. Yesterday I met another human being on the train and in the discussion that took place we both agreed that all humans share space and it is wonderful to share ideas with someone else, in passing.

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