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While Thunberg creates hope, Trump stymies it

  • 01 October 2019


Over the summer the Guardian published a conversation between US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. They talked about a lot of things, but the part that really leapt out was an exchange about hope. 'What keeps you going?' Ocasio-Cortez asks Thunberg. 'Given how daunting the issue is, why aren't you so filled with despair that you're staying on your couch every day, and just waiting for the apocalypse?'

She's kidding, but Thunberg admits she'd been to that dark place. 'Before I started school striking, I was like that. I was so depressed and I didn't want to do anything, basically.'

Ocasio-Cortez notes she felt the same until she went to protest against the fracking pipeline on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. 'It was just normal people, showing up, just standing on the land to prevent this pipeline from going through. And it made me feel extremely powerful, even though we had nothing, materially — just the act of standing up to some of the most powerful corporations in the world.'

Out of this shared experience, the two of them come to the conclusion that what brings us from despair to hope is quite simply the choice to do something of any kind. 'Hope,' says Ocasio-Cortez, 'is not something that you have. Hope is something that you create, with your actions.' And once you do, it becomes self-generative: 'Once one person has hope, it can be contagious. Other people start acting in a way that has more hope.'

Early last week the Trump Administration was accused of, then released documents confirming, that Donald Trump had asked the new president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on US presidential candidate Joe Biden. Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi immediately announced the House of Representatives would open impeachment proceedings. It seemed that finally the Trump Administration would be forced to reckon with its repeated disregard for the rule of law.

Except, as Saturday Night Live's Kenan Thompson keeps saying in a hilarious sketch detailing how many times Trump has said and done truly horrible things without suffering any consequences, 'Ain't nothin' gonna happen.'

(In a weirdly fitting slip up, co-star Aidy Bryant can't stop laughing as she tries to repeat Dr Martin Luther King's famous comment that 'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.')


"I prefer to spend my time thinking about the impact even just a