Today, we need hope. But where to find it?

Today, we need hope. But where to find it?

I get mail.

A lot of that mail comes from people like you – readers.

Some readers are kind and generous. Others are not.

Readers have to make a little effort to find where to reach me since I don’t – as I have written – do Twitter or any other social media.

I’m convinced this frustrates readers who are anxious, even eager, to harangue me or worse. They get angry or offended by what I have written. Reminder to those agitated readers: columnists aren’t paid to be nice.

About a month ago I got an email from a regular reader who is, as a rule, kind and generous. That reader wrote something thoughtful that prompted me to write this column.

The reader asked me to consider penning a more “uplifting” column rather than the usual fare of madness, ugliness and rage engulfing the world.

The reader’s request made me think. That’s what some readers make you do: think. I’m grateful to the reader.

I thought about what that reader was asking me to do and why. Hence, as I said, this column – which could turn out to be uplifting, or not.

I believe that reader, like many readers, wants to be reminded that, amid all the madness, ugliness and rage engulfing the world, humanity and hope exist.

I also believe that reader, like many readers, needs to be reminded that humanity and hope exist because, from time to time, we crave a rejuvenating respite from the madness, ugliness and rage.

Otherwise, we would sink further into resignation and despair.

And, of course, since columnists like me have all the answers and solutions for everything and everyone that causes the madness, ugliness and rage that engulf the world, who better to advise you where and how you can find hope, in particular.

But here’s the problem: columnists like me who write column after column to fix problem after problem – big and small – appear to have all the answers and solutions. We don’t. Some columnists may be “experts” in a subject or two. Apart from that, we’re in the same listing boat.

This fact may surprise some editors and expose the insufferable hubris and vanity of more than a few know-it-all-all-the-time columnists.

Truth is, being anointed a “columnist” does not confer any columnist – however popular they are on Twitter or Substack – with a host of mythical powers to remedy the madness, ugliness and rage that engulf the world.

With that caveat, I will try to describe to that charitable reader and you – if you’re so disposed – where I find hope without succumbing to sentimentality. As for prescriptions for how to rediscover “humanity”, I best leave that ancient conundrum to artists and philosophers.

There are two ways, I think, that most people live life.

My mother lived what I would call an unaware life. Widowed young and too busy raising seven children, my mother didn’t possess the inclination or energy to read columnists let alone pause to ponder the world’s madness, ugliness and rage despite having endured her share of it as a woman and immigrant.

She was preoccupied with her own, more pressing and taxing, troubles.

Every day, she got up and went to work to make a bit of money in a strange land to provide a life and some measure of reassuring stability for her children. Celebrations of any sort were rare. There were no holiday trips. No car. No appliances. No newspaper. No radio. No TV. No time for anything other than work, care, sleep and repeat.

It was a hard, grinding life. The aim was to keep her listing boat – with her children in it – afloat as best she could. Her life was an example of persistence and sacrifice.

Then, there are people like me, who have – courtesy of my mother’s accord – the time and a good dose of privilege to pay attention. Writers and columnists have to pay attention. It’s a job prerequisite.

It can be hard and grinding, too. Mind you, it’s nowhere near as hard and grinding as the work and hardship my mom braved for much of her long life.

Still, writing about the madness, ugliness and rage that engulf the world week after week can dent the mind and heart.

Lately, I have written about cowards in Stetsons who shirked from their duty to save children from being murdered in a Texas classroom. I have written about a preening prime minister who broke his word to bring damaged Palestinian children – children – to Canada to have their bodies and minds repaired. I have written about the murder of yet another journalist by an Israeli soldier who is sure that the apartheid state he or she serves will permit him or her to get away with murder.

Tough stuff.

The humane thread that binds people who are required or compelled to pay attention to people who are obliged by circumstance or prefer by disposition to let the always-cacophonous parade go by, is hope.

I find hope, in large part, where my mother found hope. She found hope in her children. In family. I find hope in mine. If you have children, you likely understand.

I know that some readers will dismiss this as Pollyanna and cliché. They are wrong.

How do I know?

This month, my two fine, accomplished daughters experienced one of the many commemorative passages of life that make joy and hope possible. They graduated. One from high school, the other from university.

Both want to help other people who need help.

The fetes marking their achievements were modest and much too brief. The unspoken dividend was a moment of bliss enjoyed – together at a table – by loved ones, including precious friends. A reminder of the “little things” that writer Kurt Vonnegut knew, with time and memory, become the “big things” that keep our listing boats afloat.

Soon, there will be other passages. Rewarding work, marriages and births. More reminders that hope and happiness are twins and often a dam against the unrelenting tide.

My brothers and sisters were my mother’s dam. Now, my daughters are mine.

Beyond family, there are human beings like Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish – a Palestinian-Canadian doctor, teacher and beloved father who, like my late mother, lost his partner to cancer.

I have written several columns about Dr Abuelaish because he is the personification of hope. I am not alone in thinking this.

Anyone who has read his book, I Shall Not Hate – an act of remembrance that pays poignant homage to three daughters and a niece erased by Israeli tank shells on January 16, 2009 – is familiar with the humbling arc of Dr Abuelaish’s story. From a father paralysed by grief to an apostle of uncommon grace and hope.

I have had the privilege of listening to and learning from Dr Abuelaish. I have learned that madness, ugliness and rage can be overcome by understanding, compassion and love. I have learned that anger is unsustainable and, ultimately, corrodes the soul. I have learned that charity is hope in tangible action.

It is no wonder that Dr Abuelaish has received 18 honorary doctorates from universities across the globe where he is asked, in return, to speak to young people – like my daughters – who will inherit the madness, ugliness and rage that is their elders’ sad legacy.

Dr Abuelaish doesn’t lecture. He encourages. He encourages others to do what he has done: heal people who need to be healed; forgive people who need to be forgiven; and defend hope when it seems naïve or ridiculous to defend hope.

So, dear reader – friend or foe – for what it’s worth, that is where I find hope.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.