Tuesday, 30 July 2013

I hope...

I was already enjoying the late winter sunshine and hoping that spring might be around the corner when I saw an article in this morning's Age about a mural King Sun by John Olsen, which has been installed in a building in Docklands.  The mural is bright and cheerful, to judge by the photos, with the quirky and typical addition of three frogs.  In this work, Olsen reminds us of the need for hope and optimism in the modern world.  As this was something I'd already been musing about it seemed to be an excellent blog topic!

If you have ever been depressed you will recognise the awfulness of despair and how hard it is to find the effort required to live in a world where hope seems to have died.  To seek help in this situation represents a hold on at least a slim glimmer of hope that things can change; the alternative, is often, to give up completely, to live in a constantly grey world or, tragically, to commit suicide.  I can't help wondering if it is hope that is really one of the great life forces.

  • compels starving parents to ensure their children get as much food as possible
  • drives refugees to risk their lives to flee persecution and starvation
  • lures people to move from country to city (or vice verse) from one country to another in search of a better life and greater opportunities for their children
  • keeps people with cancer and chronic illnesses going often through drastic treatment regimes so that they might be cured , or at least live a little longer
  • encourages us each night that dawn and daylight will follow night, and in the depths of  winter, that spring will soon in its turn.
Babies are, I think, little bundles of hope.  Not only do they represent their parents' hopes for the future, they seem also by nature to be optimistic/hopeful.  They haven't yet learnt not to trust everyone, nor to fear the world about them.

We owe it to our children to nurture this hopefulness, to teach them to be optimistic and to be resilient.  They should not be exposed to abuse, demeaning and degrading punishments  or to parenting and care that is overly permissive and sets no boundaries.  We often reward achievement, but perhaps we also need to focus on effort as well.  As I have previously said, we need to let children experience difficulties and failure not so that they are crushed but so they are encouraged and optimistic that they will succeed at something else or at another time, or even that it was fun trying.

As winter turns towards spring we know there will still be cold, wet, miserable days, but the bulbs and swelling buds remind us that change is on the way.  And thank you John Olsen for your beautiful King Sun.

John Olsen, Australian artist b.1928
An interview with Olsen while working on King Sun

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