Blog Post #1

Hello FastTrack students! As your first writing assignment, you’ll post a 300-word answer to this question:

Q: How does Solnit define “hope,” and why is this definition significant to her larger concerns about politics and social justice?

Requirements for the assignment:

1) You must submit your assignment as a comment in this thread. Make sure your name is at THE TOP of your post.

2) Your writing should be free of spelling and grammar errors; paragraphs should be clearly structured.

3) Any and all sources, including Solnit’s essay, must be cited with in-text citations.

Note: We strongly recommend that when you write this assignment, you do so in a Word document or other processor, and then copy and paste. It is very easy for Internet to fail or a computer to crash in the middle of a post, with the result that you’ve lost all your work.

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130 thoughts on “Blog Post #1

  1. Loren Ewing
    In Rebecca Solnits article, “The Arc of Justice and the long run”, she defines hope as something that one holds onto in order to look forward to a better and brighter future. She talks a lot about different periods in oppression in the world from the Apartheid in South Africa to the enslavement of the African people and the revolutions that take place her. The revolutions are driven by hope. The ones that are oppressed do not completely give into their oppressors, they have hope for a better future and can imagine a better lifestyle for themselves and the generations to come. A great example of this would be an uprising by slaves in New Orleans in 1811 which was said to have been the biggest slave uprising in United States history (as mentioned on page 4 paragraph 5). The concept of Congo Square, located in New Orleans, also relates directly to the concept of hope that she defines in this article. Slaves were allowed to gather at Congo square every Sunday and worship, play music, dance etc. “No matter if you’re in Norway, South America, or Beijing, you know, ‘this music sets me free.’ So Congo square set the world free, basically. It gives freedom to everyone around it” (page 6 paragraph 1). “Those involuntary emerges brought by slave ship were said to have nothing, but what they had still reaches and spreads and liberates” (page 6 paragraph 2). These two quotes show how this place served a lot of purpose for the slaves and gave them that feeling of liberation and hope that they needed at this point in time. Hope is greater than fear and those who fight back against the opposing force don’t do what they do without seeing that light at the end of the tunnel.

  2. Megan Buse

    In Rebecca Solnit’s article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run”, she defines hope as having courage. There are unlimited unpredictable possible results from present events. Some outcomes are miraculous and beautiful. Other results can be devastating or disappointing. The thing is, that results are so unpredictable that every action, every decision you make, has and will have some type of impact on the world. Hope is choosing to believe that good things will be a result of courage and patience. Solnit provides many examples of hope in her article. She talks about the incredible results of the slaves in Congo Square. She explains how one decision, to allow slaves to meet in this square, sparked a fire to monumental musical developments. She also points out that this lead to liberation for the African Americans in New Orleans. The Congo help spread African American culture around the nation and gave the opportunity for people to look at African Americans as people rather than just slaves. The hope that African Americans possessed allowed them to have the courage to stand up for what they believe in and fight for freedom. This gives hope to other future unfortunate events that something unexpected might and very well could, come out of that dreadful situation.

    Solnit defines hope as having patience. Looking back into the past can give hints to how the future will play out. Solnit encourages us to look at the big picture. Everyone and everything in this world somehow is connected to make a magnificent stunning Earth. We must have patience that the “arc of the moral universe”(pg2 p1) bends towards justice. Solnit explains that we must have hope that in the end, things will all turn out to be wonderful. Solnit points out that “many events that once seemed to have achieved nothing turn out to do their work slowly”. (pg3 p3) Thus, people need to have patience and hope to understand the ending results. Hope encourages courage and patience. Solnit distinctively believes that we must have hope in the future, that things will work out in the long run.

  3. Katherine Rodgers
    In the article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” author Rebecca Solnit writes about hope. “Hope,” she says, is “an orientation that has nothing to do with optimism” (Solnit 8). In her definition, hope is the knowledge that the future is unknowable and unpredictable. Hope is the feeling of “the grand mystery of it all” (8). Solnit’s deviation from the common denotation of word illustrates the importance of that one feeling. Solnit’s stated definition makes the reader realize that hope is often a wish for different, and not much more.
    This definition helps drive home Solnit’s main argument that a catalyst may not create change for many years, and even then, the outcome is always unknown. Hope is found when a white teenager is fascinated by a black trumped player in a time where segregation was the norm. Hope is the understanding that one fascinated teenager could go on an help desegregate a country. Hope is the knowledge that extinct tribes may not stay so. Hope can be found in music created oceans away. Hope can be found in the 150 year old writings of a philosopher. Thoreau likely wrote for the sake of writing. When he wrote, he could not have known that his works would inspire Gandhi to fight discrimination and free an entire country. Thoreau and Gandhi could not have known that their action would be studied by Martin Luther King Jr. to work towards a less segregated United States (3). The past will inevitable effect the future. Hope is the knowledge that the final outcome is unknowable. Hope is the understanding that change can be caused by the smallest catalyst. Solnit’s definition of hope guides the reader to recognize the importance of this feeling and its effect on the “explosions of the past.”

  4. Morgan Blair

    Throughout “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” Rebecca Solnit introduces many arguments concerning the effects of certain events and actions. Reoccurring themes, such as the idea that change is a gradual arcing that does not always have an immediate effect and that the past has a direct relationship with the future, utilize hope as a central ideal. Hope, as Solnit defines it, is “a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out,” (Page 8, Paragraph 4). This definition can be related to the arcing analogy. Like a slowly steeping arc, we may not see how it rises and falls. Similarly, the impact a person has on the World might not have an immediate effect, but make an impact over time, such as the influential works of Henry David Thoreau (Page 2, Paragraph 6).

    Solnit also connects her definition of hope when describing the influence of Martin Luther King, saying “Sometimes cause and effect are centuries apart;” (Page 2, Paragraph 2). King’s legacy has survived decades after his death, but no one could have seen the lasting impact it would have. No one could have known Thoreau would influence Gandhi, who would influence King, who would influence Mendella, each leaving a lasting influence (Page 2, Paragraph 6). In the 19th century, Congo square was just a place to gather and worship, and centuries later it gave rise to modern music (Page 5, paragraph 2). An important thing to note is that to Solnit, hope is the result of the unpredictable, stating, “Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what, just as pessimism says that it will be dismal no matter what” (Page 8, Paragraph 4). While one may “hope” for the best, an unfortunate event may be a result. “The past explodes from time to time” and the unpredictability of the event is what distinguishes hope.

    Solnit’s theory says that to see the future you must look to the past. While the future can be unpredictable, it is the effects of many different factors in the present and past. We just “hope” that the effects of the choices we are making today, will have a positive impact in the future.

  5. Kaylee Wilson

    As a supplement to her argument in “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run” Rebecca Solnit explains the difference between hope and optimism. “Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what…. Hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all.”(p.8, 5) In this instance she reveals that hope is more than just considering that everything will turn out for the better. Hope is actually the understanding that even though the outcome is truly unpredictable, anything is possible and we will never be able to accurately predict a true effect or fate whether it is good or bad. This kind of hope, she explains, is a vehicle for movement and revolution in politics and social justice in the long run.
    Solnit uses many analogies and examples throughout her work to help us understand how hope can be created by looking at the past and used in order to catalyze a radical effect in social order or political issues. Congo Square in New Orleans, for example, is a place in that Solnit depicts as a symbol of liberation and freedom. There, slaves were allowed to gather together on Sundays where they would sing and dance celebrating their culture and heritage from the homeland. A quote from Herreast Harrison states “ Those groups remembered their cultural heritage and practiced it there… they had this overarching memory of their pasts.” (p. 5, 4) This remembrance instilled hope in these slaves and continued the idea of rebellion and revolution beyond Congo Square and through generations until the time was right for the “past to explode” (p. 3, 3) as emancipation came about. The hope of an alternative outcome that their culture brought about allowed a great change to occur. The arc of moral justice may be long, but in this case it finally bent toward justice. (p. 2, 1) The hope created by their past influenced a revolution, a random event that built up over time until it exploded into something truly magnificent. This occurrence was not only beneficial for its cause, it also instilled hope in the mind of future revolutionaries whether directly or indirectly. This idea of hope allows us to see how the motivation for change originates where issues with politics and social justice are eventuallly revolutionized.

  6. Amanda Reese

    Rebecca Solnit, in her article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run”, writes to her readers about hope. Through many metaphors she explains that hope is nothing like optimism, but rather confidently believing that every person and insignificant action results in something unforeseen and spectacular. Solint expresses this idea clearly: “Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what. Hope is a sense of grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible (Solnit 8).”
    One of the simple, but beautiful metaphors Solnit gives is that of trees that bear fruit long after their planters have died. “One Massachusetts pear tree, planted by a Puritan in 1630, is still bearing fruit far sweeter than most of what those fundamentalists brought to this continent (Solnit 2).” The hope seen in this metaphor is not the tree itself; it’s the sweet fruit that it is bearing so many years after its time.
    However, the pears are not the real fruit and hope that Solnit is taken by. What Solnit sees and believes in is a hope in the United States, our world, and human kind. “I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events often occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists than is good for businesses and the status quo to acknowledge (Solnit 9).”
    Solnit’s definition of hope is one that challenges our belief in the progression of events in nature and history. Aside from that, it has the ability to bring meaning to average individuals’ lives who think their insignificant actions today won’t have an unexpected and drastic effect on the future.

  7. Eli Sutton
    As I aspire for an exceptional grade on this response, I do not desire a “grand mystery” (pg. 8, ¶ 5) such as Rebecca Solnit suggests hope is in the article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run”. The author, an activist and historian, has had the opportunity to experience paramount transitions such as liberation of African Americans and to see its “sense of power and possibility” (pg. 3, ¶ 4) not necessarily bring optimism to others who have encountered injustice but create a belief that something, someday, may change. Although knowing change does not always turn out to be for the betterment of society, the writer is not concerned of failure because humans have proven to be “a very innovative and resilient species” (pg. 9, ¶ 5) that can persist through the worst of disasters or uneven odds. Solnit depicts the strength to fight back from absolutely nothing as the Pequots did after being “massacred in 1637” (pg. 9, ¶ 2). The Pequots reappeared more than three hundred years later due to someone still cherishing what the Pequots stood for as a tribe enough to continue to do the little things throughout time. None of them knew that all it took to rebirth their tribe or open a casino or museum was “the doing” (pg.10, ¶ 1) of something, anything. All it takes is one movement to spark a drastic change. Despite the fact that whatever gave life to the Pequotes, again, cannot be directly traced back to a specific action, but observing the their lifeless limbs transform into to flourishing, fruit bearing branches full of “memory, culture, and resistance” (pg. 4, ¶ 5) conveys proof that fate can change readily. This type of evidence inspires a belief in today’s world, Solnit included, that tragedies can “metamorphose” (pg. 7, ¶ 2) into brighter and better tomorrows so that catastrophes such as school, church, and movie theatre shootings are a thing of the past. Solnit covets for all to share her belief in hope of someone inspired to simply do to make a difference.

  8. Megan Yeley

    In the article The Arc of Justice and the Long Run Rebecca Solnit defines hope as not knowing how things will turn out but knowing they will effect the future in some way. “I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events often occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists than is good for business and the status quo to acknowledge,” (Pg. 9 Para. 5).
    To have hope you must be determined. The slaves were stripped of their rights yet they still continued on their culture and memories despite what they went through. The slaves in New Orleans were allowed to congregate in a space on Sundays known as Congo Square. During this time they could celebrate their culture by dancing and music, which eventually coined the work “rock” to describe music. They did not know but they were changing society.
    Change takes time and can sometimes be centuries apart. An example of how time influence change, there was a quote saying “North American cicada nymphs live underground for 17 years before they emerge as adults,” (Pg. 2 Para. 1). Although some things take time, other events can explode over night.
    The Arab Spring had a situation like the French Revolution and they never went back on what they believed. “It was a mess, it was an improvement, it’s still not finished,” (Pg. 3 Para. 2). When times and cultures change it is not always pretty. There are clashing ideas and other issues that may arise. The main idea of the article is that everything counts no matter the magnitude of the event. Everything you do has an effect on something whether it be instant or it takes centuries to matter.

  9. Amanda Martinez

    Not being able to predict your next move in life tends to fill your heart with fear. The unknown is a scary and unpredictable place that many fear because the anxiety of having no facts to what the future holds is worse than any 21st century problem can hold, even the loss of social media. If there is no hope, there is nothing to look forward to. Rebecca Solnit said in her article, “I began writing about hope, an orientation that has nothing to do with optimism…Hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all…”. (pg.8, para. 5) It determines the inevitable and without it, centuries of historical factors would forever cease to exist due to the lack of knowledge the future would hold. Solnit uses the comparison of Charles Black, which society would later recognize as a great lawyer and voice of segregation in the 1950’s, to hope. (pg. 7, para. 4) We don’t know what is our next exact move but whatever it may be, we have the power to choose to be afraid of it or we choose to conquer it, whether it be at that exact moment or 100 years from then. In her political aspect, Solnit sought the reader to understand that not only does cause and effect have an impact on what the future presents but that if us as people want to make greater of our future we need to recognize the past and not let history repeats itself. (Dr.Beth, CC) When she refers to thae social justice aspect I assume social media did not have as large of an impact as it does now but when Solnit refers to the Congo Square and the Arab Spring, I feel that she uses those examples to show that justice eventually is fulfilled. Today’s generation may completely disagree because of the social media based view of “justice”, but what we lack is the understanding of patience. Like Solnit elaborates, the future holds either something terrible or miraculous, but it takes time. (pg.10, para. 1) Hope is what one makes of it and not only does it have the power to create fear but to also become something magnificent.

  10. John Meyers

    In her article, “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” Rebecca Solnit makes the claim that “hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible” (p 8 ¶ 5).

    Solnit is concerned with the big picture. To her, individual events are most important in the grand scheme of things. In this 10 page article chock full of references to the past, Solnit mentions not a single event without a thorough explanation of its impact on the world around it or the influences that led to its occurrence. When dealing with the big picture on a global scale, it quickly becomes apparent that not all is good with the world. This is a concept that Solnit is very familiar with. In this paper alone, she mentions the Arab Spring, revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, discrimination in Africa, British imperialism, the French Revolution, Apartheid, the collapse of the Soviet Union, student uprisings in Beijing, authoritarian regimes in Latin America, slavery in America, the triangle trade, occupy movements, the capture and imprisonment of American hikers by Iranian border patrol, the obliteration of Native American nations, and Hurricane Katrina (p 1-10). Yet for each of these horrible events, Solnit also describes a positive change in society that was caused or influenced by the event.

    The concept that something positive can come out of something so negative is where Solnit draws her sense of hope. Her big picture outlook on the world allows her to see that, in this world where horrific atrocities occur every day, one can still reasonably hope for a better tomorrow, and not only a better tomorrow, but a tomorrow better than the time before the revolution and upheaval. Solnit shows us that we need not view the adversity the world faces as simply adversity. Instead, we ought to look upon it as a potential for the world to improve.

  11. Josh Keum
    Humanity has always loved the vague words that give us hope. Words such as love, miracles, faith, peace, etc., have always been the apex of human satisfaction. The funny thing is that these words give us hope and yet hope is also included in this list of words that always gave people a strange sense of comfort. However, Solnit has come to her own sense of what hope really is and defines it as something else besides the comfort and solace.
    Solnit describes hope as a “mystery”, a suspenseful future that we as humans cannot hope to understand. It is the greater knowledge that only those above humans can foresee. Because of this definition, Solnit herself has a different sense of political and social justice. Solnit believes that because of this hope, we cannot define our future based on what happens in the past. However, we can control it to an extent because the past always has an influence on the future. “That we don’t know what we do does” (Solnit 9).
    It is the hope that Solnit speaks of that allows the pear tree to continue bearing fruit four hundred years later. It is this hope that allows cultures to grow and thrive. People in the future look to the past and that is where their hope begins. Solnit recognizes that her definition of hope gives people less control of it because it is an unknown mystery, but at least later on that hope can germinate and grow into something in the future. The seeds of justice in the past will soon grow strong in the future.
    Maybe one day humanity will have a different view on hope. Because according to Solnit, hope doesn’t start with miracles. It can start anywhere like the pears on a tree.

  12. Justin Bunch

    In Rebecca Solnit’s short article, “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” there are three reoccurring themes. These themes present themselves in the article as historical anecdotes, illustrative analogies, and even simple quotes.

    One such theme is that every person’s actions have some type of impact on the world. As Solnit stresses in the article, it is not always clear how the impact of said actions will manifest nor is it known when these manifestations will occur. To illustrate this to the readers, Solnit discusses the late impact that Henry David Thoreau and his beliefs had on Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King as they fought to liberate and desegregate their respective nations nearly 151 years after Thoreau’s passing.

    The second reoccurring theme is that “[t]he past guides us; the future needs us” (3). Solnit illustrates this theme using a historical anecdote to examine the French Revolution, detailing that while the Napoleonic Era has been over, France is still rebuilding and progressing from setbacks. Solnit states that “[t]he past explodes from time to time, and many events that once seemed to have achieved nothing turn out to do their work slowly” (3). Once again, this quote aids in reinstating that history repeats itself and it is important to examine the past to ensure that society is on the right path to a successful future.

    The final theme that runs concurrently through the article with the two previously stated themes is that of hope. On page eight of the article, Solnit gives her definition of hope:

    Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what, just as pessimism says that it will be dismal no matter what. Hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible.

    Using this quote and the following one from page nine, the reader can examine why her definition of hope is significant to her larger concerns about politics and social justice:

    “I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events often occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists than is good for business and the status quo to acknowledge.”

    It is clear that her definition of hope allows her to remain optimistic when issues arise in politics and social justice because she views the issues as not failures, but rather sources of inspiration for future generations to improve. As stated above, we don’t always know what will be the impact of our actions, but there is hope that that impact will inspire others to pursue justice and liberation.

    Solnit, Rebecca. “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run.” TomDispatch 13 January 2014: 2-10. Print.

  13. Gabrielle Gardner

    For many, hope is concept used to define the belief that something good may happen, but in Rebecca Solnit’s article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run”, she defines hope as “a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible.” (pg. 8 p5) In her definition, Solnit is basically saying that you can’t really predict when and how it will happen, but the events of other people will lead to some other event down the road even if it is centuries later. Solnit believes that “hope lies not in forward but backward” (pg 2 p1) and uses that definition of hope to show that cause and effect are not always immediate, and that “the past explodes from time to time and many events that once seemed to have achieved nothing turn out to do their work slowly” (pg 3 p2)
    One of the examples Solnit uses is Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience went on to inspire people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mohandas Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela to lead movements to end discrimination and other social injustices and bring hope for a better tomorrow, even though Thoreau did not intend for the many books he wrote during his time to inspire and bring hope to a movement that would later solve a large problem.
    Another example Solnit uses is the Congo Square. The Congo Square is where the enslaved of 19th century New Orleans were given the opportunity to meet on Sundays. With this meeting, the enslaved were able to be free, make music, and dance. This planted a seed that gave birth to the many genres we listen to today and is part of the reason music is such a big part of people’s lives today. With song and dance, the enslaved were put into a transcendental state that allowed them to feel free and liberated and in the moment which inspired a sense of hope that this liberation would one day be a reality in that generation and others.
    Rebecca’s statement “I don’t know what’s coming, I do know that, whatever it is, some of it will be terrible, but some of it will be miraculous, that term we reserve for the utterly unanticipated, the seeds we didn’t know the soil held,” (pg 10, p1) and Shane Bauer’s statement “the doing is the crucial thing” (pg 10 p1) show us that even though we may not know what the future holds, what exactly is going to happen, and what seeds will take root, doing something to try to inspire hope and change will eventually make it happen.

  14. Joe Meyer

    In Rebecca Solnit’s article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” she expresses many instances throughout history in which hope is crucial. From these instances Solnit conveys her definition of hope as an altered form of patience. Not just the ability to tolerate a short setback or delay (as defined by google), no, hope (in the form Solnit is referring to) is the ability to trust that “what we do does“ (pg.10 p.2). Or in other words, the ability to trust that what is started will eventually grow to be completed.

    Throughout her article Solnit describes how hope was conceived through certain individuals and groups whose ideals seemed unlikely to prosper. In some cases the hope seemed to completely disappear in history. For example, a Native American tribe named the Pequot were massacred and seen as “extinct, erased, gone” (pg.9 p.2) for centuries. However through Solnit’s definition of hope they stayed intact and eventually became recognized. In the 1970’s they became federally realized as a sovereign nation. There are many other stories such as this one in Solnit’s article. This repetitive use of cause and delayed effect assures Solnit of her idea of hope.

    Her ideals and concerns can be assumed by the title of her article. She believes in “The Arc of Justice” (pg. 2 Title). Whatever her specific definition of justice is does not entirely matter. What matters is that she begins the hope of her concerns being voiced in the world. As long as she does that, in her mind, it will someday change the future of politics and social justice in her favor. It may not be in her lifetime, but what she has conveyed in this article is that she is confident that her voice has been heard and will be put into action.

  15. Ashab Ahmed
    In her article, “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run” Solnit describes hope as being a “sense of the grand mystery of it all.” Solnit’s unorthodox understanding of hope shows that hope is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. Hope behold the beauty of the unknown and that unpredictability is what drives her argument.
    Solnit describes the incident of the three young American hikers that were captured by the Iranian border guards to portray how a simple action such as hiking can lead to diplomatic actions. Hope is doing things without knowing its affect. It is simple actions which may lead to great changes in the future that may not seem impacting to an average person. Solnit tells the story of Charles Black and how his view on segregation had changed just because of a mere trumpet player at a high school dance. Solnit states, “He was so rivet and transformed by the beauty of New Orleans jazzman Louis Armstrong, so much so that he began to reconsider the segregated world.”
    Solnit also relates hope with patience. We as humans living in the 21st century crave instant satisfaction. We often fail to see the togetherness during disasters and the opportunities that arise due to failure. Solnit uses a quote from Michael Foucault, “People know what they do; frequently they know why they do; but what they don’t know is what what they do does.” This is a prime example of nothing being useless, our everyday actions may lead to a spark in one’s mind, which may lead to a story worth telling.
    Solnit’s definition of hope isn’t that something good will happen; it is that something may happen. It may happen today and it may happen 100 years from today. We have to influence each other by who we are, and we create sparks in each other’s minds and the minds of all the ones around us unknowingly.

  16. Ne’Shell Neal
    In Rebecca Solnit’s article, “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run”, she defines hope as “a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible” (page 8 paragraph 5). Throughout the article Solnit spends a lot of time talking about different periods of oppression that have taken place in history, and how many of the revolutionary movements are now influencing protests for the modern issues we face today. Solnit, herself, says “sometimes cause and effect are centuries apart” (page 2 paragraph 3). Those who were facing the oppression and adversity never lost hope, and with time the past has ‘exploaded’ making some campaigns more effective long after its original intent. Although their efforts were often labeled as failures, those involved held on to the belief that there was a brighter future within their grasp, and continued to persevere in efforts to over come their oppressors.

    One example Solnit used that brilliantly personifies the concept of unrelenting hope is Congo Square in New Orleans; The slaves were ripped from their native land and everything they’d previously known, but when given the opportunity, still those to gather and celebrate their native culture, music, worship, and dance. Herreast Harrison said “But those groups remembered their cultural heritage and practiced it there, that memory, they had this overarching memory of their pasts. And when they were there, they were free. And their spirits soared to the high heavens. They were themselves. In spite of limitations in every aspect of their lives. Where they should have felt like, ‘we are nothing’, because you get brainwashed constantly about the fact that you’re a nobody… but they didn’t, they brought back. And now its part of the world, that music.” (page 5 paragraph 5). This quote shows how Congo Square embodied hope for the slaves of New Orleans, and gave them the opportunity to forget all that was bad in their lives, and celebrate all that was good. The surge of hope was enough to keep their spirits alive while they fought for their liberation, and later led to colossal developments musically across the world years later.

  17. Faith Watrous

    Soleit defies hope as always looking forward. She proves this theory by saying “But the past doesn’t need us. The past guides us; the future needs us.” (Page 3, Paragraph 1) Soleit ties this in with her argument of politics and social justice by using examples from the past, and showing the influence they’ve made on our culture. For example, she discusses the European slave trade and the influence it had on our culture. She mentions how the only thing that they truly brought with them were their memories, and their culture. Soleit has studied every aspect of the influence the slaves had on our culture. Soleit mentions on page 5, paragraph 2, “In between, what Africans had brought with them continued its metamorphosis in the city: jazz famously arose from black culture near Congo Square, as did important rhythm and blues strains and influences, as well as performers, and then funk, and then eventually hip-hop. Funk arose in part from Afro-Cuban influences and from the African-American tradition of the Mardi Gras Idians — not Native Americans, but working class African Americans. Their elaborate outfis and rites officially pay homage to the Native Americans who sheltered runaway slaves (and sometimes intermarried with them, but have a startling resemblance to African beaded costumes. The Mardi Gras Indians still parade on that day and other days, chanting and singing, challenging each other through song. Soleit talks about how these things eventually one day actually positively had affected the community of New Orleans. In my favorite point that Soleit makes, she mentions how the culture helped the people cope. She gathers information from a primary source stating “One other very important thing that Congo Square represented in the culture was that no matter what’s going on in life you transcend the culture and Congo Square helps you. It transcends and puts you into a transcendental state so that you are free at the moment.” (Page 6, Paragraph 1) Soleit heavily involves the past with the present and the future, and defies hope as always looking forward. Even though sometimes you have to look back to see the real picture. Because what once seems like a tragedy can later become something marvelous. Soleit involves the culture and their influences with the politics because she proves that with hope, there’s always one step forward.

  18. Riyad Imam

    In the article, “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” Rebecca Solnit defines hope in a different way than most people would. The actual definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” However, Solnit describes it as something that happens spontaneously, whether it’s a year from now, or a hundred years from now. Solnit refers to Martin Luther King’s work as an “arc of the moral universe that bends towards justice,” and “sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc” (Pg. 2 Paragraph 1). This description creates a visual image in the reader’s head of a series of events on a timeline that begins at one point and reaches another.

    Solnit’s definition of hope is significant to her larger concerns about politics and social justice because she is saying that everything good will happen with time. For example, she says, “Henry David Thoreau wrote books that not many people read when they were published” (Pg. 2 Paragraph 5). During his time, his work was very unappreciated, but years later many important people used his philosophies and expanded on them to help further their cause. One example of this would be Mohandas Gandhi who read Thoreau’s work on civil disobedience and used those ideas to help him fight discrimination in Africa and then free his own country from the British. Another example would be Martin Luther King who studied both Thoreau and Gandhi, and used their ideas for his cause in the Unites States. Thoreau will never know how much his work impacted so many people, which brings back the metaphor Solnit uses on (Pg. 2 Paragraph 1) about how “some trees bear fruit long after the people who have planted them have died.” These are just a few examples of the many Solnit gives throughout her article to further explain her definition of hope; that although you may not see instant results like many people would like to see, they will come with time.

  19. Logan VanWay

    Rebecca Solnit, in her article “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” presents a compelling argument for hope as a force that often ferments before unleashing its volatility. According to Solnit, “hope lies not in looking forward but backward.” (Solnit 1) Her assertion, that hope is most impactful in “the Long Run,” displays hope as initially reticent; Solnit’s hope is one which lays low until resurfacing as a spark for indelible change.

    There are two interesting points to make of Solnit’s definition of hope. First, by linking the term hope with several examples of social justice—the Arab Spring protests and the liberation of South Africa, for instance—Solnit establishes a relationship of causality between the two words. Second, the scale of the events she uses to present her argument, along with chronicling the triumphs of her definition of hope, is evidence that shows hope as the most motivational and necessary ingredient for social justice.

    It is worth noting that the reason hope has given so much vitality to social justice is because of the answers it lacks. In Solnit’s words, “hope is a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible.” (Solnit 8) She distinguishes hope from optimism, stating that with optimism “everything will be fine no matter what.” (Solnit 8) Through this contrast, we are shown the true power of hope; the emergence of dramatic change is reliant upon the uncertainty of how it will form.

    Due to the nature of social justice being unpredictable, and it’s naturally untraceable roots, it is immensely import for hope to be present in those situations. The sole method by which change can occur is willful determination, and that determination is fueled by hope. Solnit’s definition of hope encapsulates the importance of its presence and provides a foundation for meaningful change to occur.

  20. Lauren Neill

    It takes great thought and imagination, beyond the normal human perspective, to understand and believe the evanescence of cause and effect. The intricate process of change is often so slow, obscure, and/or minuscule that it is generally disregarded; that is, until it develops. As Solnit suggests, it is nearly impossible to track “the unexpected ways immaterial things travel through time and space” (Solnit pg. 4, 4). Although the visual transfer of cause and effect is hard to footprint, it is easier to look at change that has happened in the past and work our way backwards in order to see the significant events we can better track. As Solnit elegantly states, “sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward” (Solnit pg. 2, 3) because of the long-term effects of hope usually exceed the lifetime that desired the change in the first place. Thoreau, she notes, did not live to see the days his work greatly impacted people.

    In the realm of politics and social justice, Solnit effectively articulates this butterfly effect through historical examples of hope. Hope, she defines, is a state of mind where “anything is possible” (Solnit pg.8, 5) and happens in the moment where opportunity and liberty present themselves in their most ideal and true forms. Music, for example, is a common outlet that transcends people into their moments of freedom and realization. When the emigres were brought by slave ship with seemingly nothing to look forward to and nothing to hold on to, they prevailed by “remember[ing] their cultural heritage and practicing it [at Congo Square]” (Solnit pg. 5, 5) which gave them hope that they externalized into music: a message that grew and spread (and continues to spread) across the globe. Hope, in the way Solnit describes its role in this universe as well as its unpredictable means, serves as an important reminder in political theory as well as an inspiration to her readers that they must act. The cliché stands: even the little things you do every day will impact the future, and the more the better.

  21. Karli Haubenreiser

    In “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run”, Rebecca Solnit defines hope as “a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible” (pg.8, P4). She uses several examples from history to further explain this idea of hope and validate her larger concerns about politics and social justice.
    Solnit opens the article saying, “Sometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see it’s curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc” (pg.1, P1). By stating this, she is suggesting that we cannot just look forward to the future and hope that life will improve without looking back at the past and using mistakes and information to guide us. Solnit wants us to believe that what we are doing today will eventually have an impact on our lives later on down the road, even if it does not seem like it will right now.
    Later in the article Solnit writes, “the past doesn’t need us. The past guides us; the future needs us (pg.2, P1). She goes on to talk about how Gandhi read Thoreau on civil disobedience and found ideas that helped him fight discrimination in Africa and then liberate his own country from British rule. Martin Luther King also studied Thoreau and Gandhi and used their ideas in the United States. Solnit then makes a valid point stating, “You wish you could write Thoreau a letter about all this. He had know way of knowing that what he planted would still be bearing fruit 151 years after his death” (pg.2, P1). At the time, Thoreau had absolutely no idea that his work would affect the world the way it has. This is a perfect example of how the past guides us for the future. Important leaders such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, and Nelson Mandela all took Thoreau’s ideas and put them to use to better the future.
    Even though our world is always in need of some improvement Solnit remains optimistic and emphasizes that in order to see the improvement happen, we must do something about it instead of sitting here just hoping that things will change themselves.

  22. Heather Burns

    The idea of hope is usually paired with optimism. “Optimism says that everything will be fine no matter what” (Page 8, Paragraph 3). Rebecca Solnit, the writer of “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” alters her reader’s perspective on that idea by saying that there are always going to be things to overcome and there is no way to tell how it will happen, but things always have a way of working themselves out. “I don’t know what is coming. I do know that, whatever it is, some of it will be terrible, but some of it will be miraculous,” she stated (Page 10, Paragraph 1). She goes on to prove with historical evidence that impactful events don’t always happen suddenly and that you never quite know what the ripple effect will be. One example of hers being the two young American hikers who got captured on the Iraq-Iran border and were imprisoned for 781 days. These men caused the U.S. and Iran to converse and this led to the interim nuclear agreement. “One of my fears in prison was that our detention was only going to fuel hostility between Iran and U.S. It feels good to know that those two miserable years led to something, that could lead to something better than what was before,” wrote Shaun Bauer (Page 8, Paragraph 3). Those hikers not only proved that the future is unpredictable, but it also goes to show justice prevailed in bring two opposing nations to an agreement. Over the decades, there is evidence of injustice taking place throughout the world of politics. Solnit urges her readers to take action in that very moment because history proves that events in the past have a way of effecting our future a better way than ever imagined.

  23. Ryan Welleford

    In the article, “The Arc of Justice and the Long Run,” Rebecca Solnit divides ‘hope’ from ‘optimism’. Solnit’s interpretation of ‘optimism’ is a – borderline ignorant? – happy-go-lucky attitude, the mindset “that everything will fine no matter what” (8.5). She continues to distinguish ‘optimism’ from ‘hope’ by interpreting ‘hope’ as “… a sense of the grand mystery of it all, the knowledge that we don’t know how it will turn out, that anything is possible” (Solnit 8.5). Solnit’s definition of ‘hope’ contrasts ‘optimism’’s more ignorant belief by broadening ‘hope’ to be an open minded ideal, accepting the mysterious unknown of “it all” (Solnit 8.5). ‘Hope,’ in this terminology, reaches to form connections in the ever variable future to the concrete past, while recognizing that these connections are unpredictable.

    Solnit’s impression of ‘hope’ relates to her larger political and social justice concerns as she connects the dots between the nineteenth century, transcendentalist philosopher and anarchist Henry David Thoreau and later twentieth justice leaders Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. “Not many people read [Thoreau’s books] when they were published,” Solnit states (2.7); but when Mohandas Gandhi, a South African lawyer of Indian descent, found Thoreau’s civil disobedience ideas, Gandhi’s own country was liberated from British rule and discrimination was fought in Africa (Solnit 3.1). Martin Luther King studied Thoreau and Gandhi, continuing to use their ideas in the United States’ Civil Rights Movement (Solnit 3.1). Furthermore, in 1952, Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress collaborated with the South African Indian Congress on civil disobedience campaigns (Solnit 3.1).

    During the social and political justice movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Mandela, ‘optimism’ does not fit the scope of each event, ‘hope’ does. In these instances, Thoreau unknowingly planted a seed that continued to bear fruit 151 years after his death (Solnit 3.1). Thoreau’s writing, in complete unpredictability, formed connections to India, the United States, and South Africa. As Solnit states, “… the past doesn’t need us. The past guide us; the future needs us” (Solnit 3.1).

    No one knows what’s coming, not even Solnit (10.1). She continues hold onto ‘hope,’ to accept that the future will terrible, and miraculous, “that term we reserve for the utterly unanticipated, the seeds we didn’t know the soil held” (Solnit 10.1).

  24. Nicole Yvonne Cortez
    In her famous poem, Still I Rise, Maya Angelou writes her vision of hope and states hope as one that “out of the huts of history’s shame, I rise. Up from a past that’s rooted in pain, I rise” (Still I Rise, poets.org). Her definition of hope mirrors Rebecca Solnit’s definition of hope in her article, The Arc of Justice and the Long Run. Solnit defines hopes as the knowledge that the future is unknowable and unpredictable. “Hope,” she says, is the feeling of “the grand mystery of it all” (Solnit 8). Solnit’s definition reflects the hope in Angelou’s poem due to all the evidence that Solnit states in her article.

    Solnit’s definition of hope is significant to her concerns about politics and social justice. Solnit believes that “sometimes hope lies not looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc” (Solnit 2). In her article, Solnit refers to the origins of the peaceful protests dealing with civil rights and how it has changed forms throughout the years with the inception with the writings of Henry David Thoreau, to Mohandas Ghandi, to Dr. Martin Luther King and the great Nelson Mandela. In the beginning, Henry David Thoreau’s work were not read by many until years later when Ghandi used his ideas of civil disobedience to liberate his country from British rule. From then on, the domino effect had taken place. With Mandela’s catalyst of ending the apartheid in his country, a whole chain reaction of events took place such as the global boycotts to end apartheid in the era from 1989 to 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet Union (Solnit 3).

    With all the challenges the United States faces, it is important to have hope and patience and to not be afraid to look at the past for help because “the past guides us” (Solnit 3). The seeds that have already been planted long ago just take time and hope because “the past explodes from time to time, and many events that once seemed to have achieved nothing turn out to do their work slowly” (Solnit 3). People need to understand that hope sprouts from the smallest catalyst or action taken; the seeds just need to be planted for it to grow.

  25. Dawson Godby

    Rebecca Solnit’s has a unique version of hope where she perceives that there will be uncountable monstrosities that take place in the future. While also still hoping that there is a miracle waiting around the corner, or as she put it, “I don’t know what’s coming, I do know that, whatever it is, some of it will be terrible, but some of it will be miraculous” (pg. 10, p 2). To her something insignificant like the seeds planted decades or life time’s ago are just waiting to sprout up from the ground and bring its fruit to light where it can make difference in the world. That even in a believed “lost cause” that something unexpected may just be waiting to happen unnoticed to the rest of us. For example when Ms. Solnit brought up her example of the Pequot Native American tribe. That were perceived as such a lost cause that in the work Moby Dick she cited Herman Melville saying that the Pequot were a people, “Now extinct as the ancient Medes” (pg. 9, p. 4). Rebecca Solnit also discusses that future problems may be rising like climate change and issues with the morality of our legal system, but still believes that in her words, “I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists.” (pg. 9, p. 6) she also seems to be a very Rousseau like thinker believing that all people are inherently good. She is drawing these ideals from her past experiences like she had in New Orleans. Where she witnessed a community of all different points upon the ethic spectrum come together for the betterment of their neighbors.

  26. Brianna Barksdale

    Solnit repeatedly refers to an “arc of the moral universe” in which states that hope, just like justice, is inevitable (Solnit 1). As she researches many cases in which wrong has been done, there is always a silver lining or eventual upturn to the standards. The arc often takes place long after those who set it in motion are long gone and acts to encourage the reader to both find these changes and try their best to put one in to action as stated by the quote “sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc” (Solnit 2). The hope from previous arcs are what give us motivation to start new ones. Solnit is giving us hope when we least expect it, such as with Thoreau when she states that he will never know his impact on today’s culture, or Martin Luther King Jr., or Gandhi. These people acted for the sake of others and for the sake of change in order to start an arc of revolution for those in front of them, not behind them. Hope itself is motivation to get something done; a driving force that rules our lives even if we don’t believe it has much power over us. The hope gives us motivation to pursue our goals and be the change we want to see. The quote “I also see that we never actually know how things will play out in the end, that the most unlikely events often occur, that we are a very innovative and resilient species, and that far more of us are idealists than is good for business and the status quo to acknowledge” also shows that the most resilient of our species are the ones who truly succeed because they are their own motivation and can produce their own hope (Solnit 9). Those are the on es who make the real changes in the world.

  27. Michael Adams
    Solnit defines hope as the force created as a result of the activities that occurred in Africa and before that Europe. She describes the events that occurred in Africa in detail, pointing out the reason for all of the events that happen later in time, as well as the people that fueled the events. Solnit quotes the leader of one such event and in this quote he explains that there is liberation for not just one of the parties but both.
    Solnit describes the actions of Mohandas Gandhi, after having read the work of David Thoreau he used this information in his work fighting “discrimination in Africa and then liberating his own country from British rule” (Pg.3 p1). Martin Luther King Jr. was also influenced by David Thoreau, and the information he learned from that book fueled his part in the revolution for equal rights for blacks across America. Nelson Mandela is an example of another person that was influenced by the writing of David Thoreau. Through his writings Mandela worked with the “African National Congress on civil disobedience campaigns” (Pg.3 p1).
    After the work of all three of these liberators the results were positive compared to the beginning, but still not enough to be safe from discrimination from everybody. Because of the work that was done many other nations turned to revolution as well and changed the government forever. No longer was there “absolutist monarchy or the belief that such a condition could be legitimate”(Pg.3 p3) The end result of all of this gave more nations hope to reach a better point in their history where discrimination or government control was overwhelming. Examples of later revolutions include, “the collapse of the Soviet Union, successful revolutions across Eastern Europe, the student uprising in Beijing, and the beginning of the end of many authoritarian regimes in Latin America”(Pg.3 p4).

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