Simon Smart considers 'hope': the topic of CPX's 2023 Richard Johnson Lecture, with guest lecturer Dr Leisa Aitken.

Where do you look to find hope today? 

In this last week I have been to CPX’s annual Richard Johnson Lecture in both Perth and Sydney. Our topic: Rediscovering Hope: How we lost it; how we get it back. It was the 10th lecture in the series. We’ve had ones on religious violence, being human in a technological age, overcoming polarisation. They’ve all been great. This one felt especially timely.  

Clinical psychologist Leisa Aitken has just completed a PhD on the topic of Hope. The lecture began with a sweep of great philosophers and theologians in Western history all interested in sources of hope. We were reminded that this is a perennial topic even and especially in times of upheaval and distress.  

Leisa’s research uncovered many fascinating aspects of this topic. Hearing that, today, the least hopeful cohort are people under 25 clearly impacted the audience. 

If you missed the event catch our podcast interview with Leisa, and look out for the talk when it’s released on our site in coming months. 

On the night we heard about cultivating hope by waiting expectantly, engaging relationally, viewing the future with meaningful possibilities. 

But it was the fourth element that caught my attention. We need glimpses of that future and even a shard of light can be enough to bolster our hope and keep us going. As Leisa said, “The beauty of glimpses is we don’t have to change everything in the world to bring about hope. We need just a taste. Just a glimpse.”   

A key encouragement was that we can also be that “glimpse” for someone else. Every day, we can make a choice to provide a glimmer of hope for a friend. Small things can make a big difference. That felt well-timed. Hopeful.   


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