Writing about Hope

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Last week, I wrote about ways many of us are finding to keep our wits about us during this time of pandemic pandemonium. This week, the numbers of COVID-positive tests and hospitalizations across the country are getting worse and worse; the government seems to be embracing the concept of “herd immunity,” which will not help; and most people I know are counting down the days until the election, though the end result may not be clear for some time.

Meanwhile (or “quarantinewhile,” as Stephen Colbert says), reports of widespread depression and other mental health problems indicate that the pressures of these times are really getting to us—to all of us—in ways we may not even be able to see. (When a five-year-old friend of mine comforts his sister by saying, “It’s OK to be sad; these are dark times,” I know we’re in trouble.)

Yet even in such dark times, tens of thousands of young people across the country are volunteering to serve at the polls. And they are volunteering at food banks and other community resource centers in record numbers. So I think of them, with deep gratitude, when I need cheering up. Just a few days ago, I had a chance to sit in on a meeting with high school and college students from several different parts of the country as they talked and wrote about what they are feeling in these times. Toward the end of the meeting, the leader asked that everyone write for a few minutes about what they see beyond the portal of the coronavirus, what they would fight for, and what they hope for. As always, these students were eloquent in the simplicity and clarity of their messages. They wrote of love, of family, of safe havens and clean air and water. One young man summed up by saying he hoped for a “world in which a virus cannot tear apart what we value most: each other.”

If you are teaching right now, giving your students a chance to respond to this prompt would, I believe, bring forth other equally inspiring and eloquent hopes, as well as help students put their hopes and goals into perspective for themselves. Though it is a cliché to say, these young people are our best hope.

Image Credit: Pixabay Image 2565722 by StockSnap, used under the Pixabay License

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.