Blog by Associate Colette Parker

Someone recently asked if I am optimistic that we can redeem the soul of America (as it relates to the racial construct).

I paused before giving my answer: “No. I am not optimistic, but I am hopeful.”

Then, I found myself processing the difference. What I discovered is what I always recognize during these kinds of self-reflection: the difference is in the definition.

I subscribe to the teaching of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks who says “optimism is the belief that the world is changing for the better; hope is the belief that, together, we can make the world better.”

I like the rabbi’s view of hope as an active virtue. I believe that, together, we can create a structure that is beneficial to all Americans; close the “value gap” (which Eddie Glaude Jr. describes as the idea that white people are more valuable than Black people); and find a better way forward.

I can’t be optimistic at this point because I realize that there are people who are invested in preserving the current systemic structure, in sustaining the value gap, and maintaining the status quo.

Are you optimistic or hopeful?

Posted in Associate Blog, News

15 responses to “OPTIMISM -vs- HOPE

  1. I find that there are times when I need to tamp down on any optimism as we’ve seen the fight for racial justice and equity before only to see the doubling down of “white rage.” What does bring me hope is that this “new” movement, is being led by some shining stars.

  2. I feel especially hopeful after listening to Michelle Obama’s speech.
    She is a true example of leadership for such a time as this.
    She was clear about the problems and also clear about guiding people toward solutions.
    She was brilliant and gifted.

  3. Dear Colette,
    You are a good Dominican because we were always taught to define the terms. You did that well.
    Yes, I am hopeful that we can make a difference with God’s grace yet the soul’s growth is slow at times.
    Thanks for your reflection.
    Love and prayer,
    Sr. Brigid

  4. God is good and all-powerful.
    Our prayerful hope will be fulfilled.
    This is where our faith supports our hopes,
    “Ask and you shall receive…”

  5. Thanks for your insights and challenge. Please don’t stop making us face the reality. I am hopeful.

  6. I am hopeful Colette. After listening to Michelle Obama and some of the other speakers at the DNC there was a spark to help me not lose hope.

  7. Thank you so much for this. Our Archdiocese is doing webinars on racism, including women. I, too, do not count on the current government to change our country’s thoughts; but, maybe our dioceses can, as well as us changing our mindsets.

  8. I am hopeful too, Colette. I’d love to be optimistic but I know too much about Donald Trump and his ability to undermine all the good others do. I’m praying God takes good care of our country. Thanks for your words.

      1. Karen, All the prejudice and hatred are not the fault of one man, but the fault of many white men that believe they are superior and only care about preserving their power and wealth. And Donald Trump is using every way possible to keep that alive. He is extremely prejudiced and hateful. He has no interest in changing any of the systems that continue to harm black people, immigrants, women, indigenous people and LGBTQ+ people. With no moral compass he has not used his leadership position to begin to change; he only wishes to keep his power and wealth at all costs.
        Thank you Colette for keeping the issue in front of us. Peace and blessings,

  9. I feel hopeful because I’m finding an openness in a few white circles in which I participate to understand our US caste system. With understanding comes the willingness to change our minds and hearts. I think we’re at a new moment.

  10. I am ever optimistic AND hopeful, and I especially believe if we stand united as Voices of Hope for a world in dire need of hope. I like the Rabbi’s quote, and also a quote from Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

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