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One of the things that often prevents right action is a feeling that we can't do anything because the political problems in this world are massive and insurmountable. Yes, there is a certain truth to that. And yet, think of the great effort folks have made and all of the good that has come of that work, e.g, the end of slavery, the end of child labor, the vote for women, desegregation of lunch counters, buses, and schools, the Clean Air Act, etc.
The folks who acted did so because they felt they could not do otherwise: right action for right reason even though the world may militate against it. I would say these folks had hope, which, to my mind, is deeper than optimism. Hope keeps going even though it looks like no light is on sight whereas optimism is more easily extinguished in the darkness.
The readings and videos for the final touch upon the themes we have considered in class and frame them both in action and hope. There are just five readings and videos so as not to overwhelm you and to give you the time that you need to reflect upon and write about them. After you have read through and viewed the readings and videos, please write a three to five-page reflection. You may first give a brief synopsis of the readings and videos, e.g., what are the most important points made, how did those who were featured act politically, why did they act, etc. After that, please let me know how you saw hope in action in these readings and videos. Finally, please let me know what you are most passionate about politically and how you might act on what deeply concerns you. You don't need to have "the plan" all worked out at this point. I'd just like you to start thinking about how you might engage in the political work of the world at this point.
You do not need to use any other resources other than what I have assigned. However, if there is a reading that you have chosen and would like to use, please do so (in addition to, not as a substitution for what I have assigned). Though the exam is not a formal essay, please do cite references properly when needed throughout the reflection.
Please let me know if you have any questions. I know that you are pressed for time, so there is no need to go beyond five pages or even three pages, for that matter. The most important thing for me is that you are engaged in the theory, work, and hope of politics and that you are inspired to make a positive difference in this suffering but beautiful world of ours. The exam should be turned in by 6 pm on Wednesday, June 29th. I will need it by early evening so that I can get the grades in on time.
Here are the required readings and videos:
Vincent Harding: Civility, History, and Hope
Bill Moyers and Martha Nussbaum: Applying the Lesson of Ancient Greece
Democracy Now Earth Day Special: A Fierce Green Fire
Selections from Rebecca Solnit's book, Hope in Dark Times (scroll down)
Remembering Daniel Berrigan, S.J. Priest, Poet and Peace Activist
One of the things that often prevents right action is a feeling that we can't do anything because the political problems in this world are massive and insurmountable. Yes, there is a certain truth to that. And yet, think of the great effort folks have made and all of the good that has come of that work, e.