Thanks for the thoughtful comment, MB. I hope some other readers respond to it, too, but here are a couple of my own preliminary reactions:
I think Derrick is right in saying that hope implies a surrendering of agency, though certainly he may have resorted to a little bit of hyperbole there. But I think your critique of his possible hubris is accurate, too — and jibes with my own observations of successful agitators and activists. They are quite often on the arrogant side. In pondering this further, I think my own reservations about our cultural emphasis on hope relate to my intense suspicion of progressivist narratives. Without necessarily romanticizing the past, I don’t think the anthropological evidence supports the view of continual progress from the days of small-band, gatherer-hunter societies. I also find myself much more sympathetic to a fatalistic view that says that ultimately the universe is way, way bigger than us, and all our efforts amount to fairly little. And that being the case, I feel reverence and humility are imperative. Though not Muslim, I often find myself mentally (or actually) adding “inshallah” to hopeful statements, because it strikes me as presumptuous to count on favorable outcomes. So I guess I do come down on your side here, though I’m not sure Jensen would disagree too strongly with this view of things, either. Thanks to you and Matthew for pushing me to think more deeply about this (and to re-read the essay).