In 2012 Graham Howe published Sacred and secular sources of hope for a post modern society for SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online) and in it he described 4 sources of secular hope:
- Urban regeneration and community development – symbolizing and securing hope for a viable urban future.
- The Ecological Imperative – optimizing hope for the perpetuation of ‘Planet Earth’.
- Re-Sacralizing the Secular – re-investing ‘post-religious’ secular social theory with overtly religious norms and values.
- The Aesthetic Imperative – utilizing the visual Arts- both elite and popular- as a mechanism for social and personal transformation. All four case studies embody explicit sources of ‘hope’ for 21st century individuals, communities and societies.
In the article itself Howe attempts to rectify the cognitive dissonance between the religious and secular thinking of all 4 of these sub-topics. We will be exploring all except number three in secular terms. We won’t be looking at number three as that is more of a matter of politics and cultural conditioning. But we will look at the other three in terms of why these are secular and why they can provide the non-religious so much hope.
The simplest way to describe urban development is the building of a community. Community can mean anything from a neighborhood to a multinational network. Urban development covers a wide range of issues for a given urban area such as:
- Managing urban expansion and congestion
- Environmental sustainability
- Resource use (water, mining. ..etc.)
It’s a vast topic and can take years of study to truly be skilled at. However you don’t need to a have university degree to be concerned with and involved in the urban planning of your community. This is of course tied to community development:
Community development is both a process – developing and enhancing the ability to act collectively – and an outcome – a decision to take collective action and the results that action generates. Effective community development occurs when community members work together with organizations and governments to solve problems and realize new opportunities. Community development is an essential ingredient in effective community change efforts: helping to prioritize and align strategies to the community’s context, as well as, revealing, and mobilizing, untapped community resources.(source)
Being a part of a process allows us to also be a part of the outcome. Knowing that we did the work that resulted in our community befitting in some way gives a satisfying and empowering feeling; a feeling of hope that we helped build a better present and future for ourselves, our family and friends. The best way to do this is volunteering and there are countless ways to do this. Moneycrashers has 12 good ways:
- Offer to Help Family
- Volunteer At Your Local School
- Organize a Yard Sale For Charity
- Visit a Senior Center
- Coach a Local Youth Team
- Tutor a Student
- Fix and Serve meals
- Serve on a Community Board
- Become a Docent
- Be a Good neighbor
- Organize a Food Co-Op
- Volunteer At a Hospital
Charities and Community organizations are always happy to take volunteers. Do a little research, find one you like and volunteer. You don’t even necessarily need a community organization. Something as simple as tending a community garden or shoveling the neighbors sidewalk is just as good. Even an hour a week can lead to the powerful sense of hope that comes from contributing. Not because you are trying to please a God or Gods or anyone but simply because the results are always positive and tangible and feels so good.