The second section of the book “Not Too Late” asks readers to go all-in on hope. Throughout the essays, hope is presented as an active state that people choose to participate in. In her piece, “In Praise of Indirect Consequences,” Rebecca Solnit writes: “This story is not finished, and we do not know how it ends. But we can help decide that. Doing the work matters.”
Read part one of this series: Essays of hope and action inspire readers
Themes of love and working with, rather than against, grief also stand out in this section. In a Q&A about the youth-led network Pacific Climate Warriors, Fenton Lutunatabua describes the importance of bringing love and joy to the climate fight. “In the building out of this new world, we have to, now more than ever, fight for the things that we love, the lands that we love, the places that we love,” he said.
The emphasis on community action and leaning on each other was relatable to readers. “I always look for support like these essays when I need to take a break from all the gloomy news that surrounds us. We need others to help nurture our own seeds of hope,” wrote book club participant Arlene from Seattle, Washington.
We’ve been reading this book together! If you’d like to participate in our virtual book club, there’s still time to join.
Many book club participants were drawn to Jaquelyn Gill’s essay, “The Asteroid and the Fern,” which takes readers back over 250 million years to the worst mass extinctions in Earth’s history.
“‘The Asteroid and the Fern’ gave me a new perspective. It was fascinating to learn that during the Great Dying, 90% of life on Earth was lost. The fact that all present-day life came from the 10% that was left is mind-blowing. Somehow that gives me hope and comfort, although I will continue to work for a future in which much greater than 10% of current life continues,” said Vickey Atkinson from Chatham County, North Carolina.
Meanwhile, the interview with poet-activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner reminded readers to enjoy the present while fighting for the future. “Yes, be active, no matter what the immediate results might be,” wrote Stanley Wang from Fullerton, California. “Take pleasure in other things, especially with your children (thanks Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner), because, after all, this is what we are all fighting for.”
These essays also inspired readers to imagine better futures. A reader from De Pere, Wisconsin, wrote: “I’m very clear on not turning away from the challenges facing us because as horrific as it all feels, there are tremendous opportunities to build a new way of being outside of the ‘vanilla culture’ created by capitalism, colonialism, and the patriarchy. So many people around the world, White people included, have been robbed of their ancestry, of ancient wisdom that allowed us to live in union with the Earth and all her creatures. We have opportunities to take that back, community, by community.”
Readers also noted that it was inspiring to read Solnit’s piece about how our actions can have wider impacts than we expect and how one choice, one action, one movement can reverberate out and create an environment for new worlds to emerge. Sharon Hausam from New Mexico wrote: “I have the option to consider, ‘What if the future was better than the past? What if it was beautiful?’ What a way to ward off despair!”
“[We must] face our despair and walk through it because we don’t know the outcome,” wrote Marian Glenn from Freeville, New York. “There are possibilities out there that we don’t see from here.”
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Don’t forget that there’s still time to join our book club. We’ll be reading the third section, “The future we want,” until Aug. 16, 2023.