This post invites you to do a bit of pondering…
One of the gifts of advent is to set the business of hope in both a historical and an extra-historical conext. In other words, hoping has been going on for a long time, even if our own version always seems the most pressing. Even in the span of my own lifetime this seems true, in that my own adult children believe that the political and economic circumstances they are forced to endure are the worst ever, – a view that is unchanged despite my description of the Thatcher years I grew up in.
To help us think about this a little more, I offer you two videos. The first one is rather long and describes anthropological and architechtural work to try to understand the pre-agricultural hopes of ancient civilisations.
Why? I hear you ask. The answer to this is perhaps more evident in the light of the second video, which is of me reading a poem.
Until the realities of man-made climate change and ecocide became more widely appreciated, human history was almost always understood in terms of rise, ascendence, progress, advance. We moved from being primative towards civilisation. It is perhaps of note that the history we speak of is only a fraction of human history. Homo Sapiens – people just like us – have been around for at least three hundred thousand years, but our knowledge only goes back a few thousand. For all of those year, our ancestors hoped.
What where they hoping for? David Wengrow (in the video) describes a fascinating account of the abandonment of a sophisticated city, and a return to the land. The hint here is that people may have trying to find a better way to live.
Just like us.
Here is my poem, written a few years ago, recorded in the spring hills.