“Hope is a discipline” -Mariame Kaba
I heard once that hope is a discipline.
It exhausts me to go against the flow
of pasts and presents and futures distraught,
of women and men, and yous and us passing by.
And we all can’t help but harm so deeply,
because the truths and lies
in this bloody lace, in this wretched web
that set in motion the roots of pain
are running wild so fiercely within our veins
that innocence is a myth
and guilt stitches us together.
I heard that hope is a discipline
and I saw a man speak kindly
to monsters with their inner childs.
And I saw pain roar, and I found locks
between pairs of eyes that used to be lost.
And I also saw sweetness
that poisoned good intentions
with persuasions to forgiveness
and with hopes and expectations
that we were simpler and gooder,
when we were not.
And I remembered that hope is a discipline:
a decision to keep breathing and
to begin again and again,
drawing compassion in the midst of chaos,
drawing joy or something to believe in
that beholds a silent flame
when the maelstrom of shame takes over.
And I remembered that there must be rules
so we don’t tamper with the healing,
so we don’t drown in the swamps of blame,
so we don’t conquer one another
when we covet, perhaps out of ambition,
or selfish pleasure, or lack of meaning.
Aren’t we all just walking numb out of
mere and senseless hope-starvation?
Because… what if indeed it is all meaningless?
With hurt and evil, with systemic
pains that are too deep and too wide
and too high: perversely endemic! Then hope
needs to be a discipline, so we can put a pin
on the healing here and now,
and grow a garden of being present, listening,
and become souls that warm the void
with our compassion,
fireflies with words,
that, little by little may knit meanings and restore
the whys, the whats, the hows
and perhaps even other people’s hopes.
I am Costa Rican and live in San José. I’m a single mom with two boys and two cats. I am a psychologist with a major in Education and I learned about restorative practices over a decade ago: I am passionate about their impact in the fields of education, juvenile prison facilities, communities and government agencies across Central and Latin America, where I have been fortunate enough to witness the power and commitment of people implementing them. I work as a professor and researcher at Universidad de Costa Rica and I also work with community engagement at the IIRP. I struggle to be a restorative mom, but I believe that I’m getting better every day.
This poem is a tribute to Mariame Kaba’s powerful statement that Hope is a Discipline. It is also a tribute to all that, through restorative justice and practices, work day by day to strengthen the communities and bonds where we can find one another.