What disasters reveal about hope and humanity

Rebecca Solnit explores whether disasters like pandemics reveal a surprising truth – that people are more generous than we commonly believe.

NPR ,

Coronavirus: CDC Expert in a Hazmat Suit
Coronavirus: CDC Expert in a Hazmat Suit
iStock

"What if everything we’ve been told about human nature is wrong?” That’s the question Rebecca Solnit is asking.

The author, activist and historian explores whether disasters like pandemics reveal a surprising truth – that human beings are more generous, more altruistic, more hopeful than we commonly believe.

“What I call hope is really just full recognition of the unpredictability of the future, because both pessimists and optimists join forces in assuming they know what's going to happen next, and that it requires nothing of us. My vision of hope is a sense of radical uncertainty, with the possibility of intervention, to shape the future. And in disasters, there's always a power struggle," she said.

"We’re seeing authoritarians all over the world to seize more power. Hungary just became a dictatorship effectively. We're seeing power grabs in our own country and the Philippines, etc. But we also see mutual aid and political struggles. And crises that often discredit the ruling powers show people a kind of fearlessness power from below and possibility for radical change that can also shape the outcome. And we've seen that in many cases, as well, in the wake of disasters.”

"My vision of hope is a sense of radical uncertainty, with the possibility of intervention, to shape the future."




top