The opposite of grimdark is hopepunk.
Pass it on.
– Alexandra Rowland
Everything is deteriorating and the only smart outlook is a cynical one. At least that’s what I’m hearing. Well, nihilism, the belief that nothing matters, isn’t a worldview or a professional outlook I’m interested in.
Yes, our profession is a hard one. There are challenges and uncertainties every day. There are angry people, diseases that can’t be cured, and treatments that can’t be afforded. There are fights with management, arguments among staff, and disagreements over how best to get our work done. Cancer isn’t fair. Pet owners make mistakes. Some people are just in it for the money. And those who are hurting emotionally tend to lash out and hurt others.
A lot of us in veterinary medicine think the enlightened response is “to fully accept and expect dark days.” These people protect themselves (and tell themselves they are protecting others) by anticipating the negative as if it’s a given. They signal their insight and experience in the world by telling others that hardship is coming, things are broken, and “that’s just the way it is.”
After all, if something painful happens and you “called it,” it doesn’t hurt as much, right?
Well, I have decided that the culture of despair and defeat is one that I’m not interested in being a part of. In fact, it’s one I’d like to see torn down. I think we need to revolt.
It’s time for a rebellion.
A rebellion against negativity and darkness, however, is not driven by positivity. Rather, the way to battle back is not telling ourselves that painful things are actually good and everything is fine. It’s not reminding people who are struggling that they should be grateful. That’s its own type of toxicity.
No. The rebellion against cynicism is defined by hope.
In a world where fear and problems walk through our doors and appear on our phones, rebellion is stubborn, lip-curled, gritted-teeth optimism.
Today, hope is punk rock. It’s the mindset of those who don’t want to be told what to do or think. Owning your power to step forward and make days brighter is leather, spikes, and chains. Helping when you don’t have to is an ace of spades face tattoo. And telling someone that they are making a positive difference in the world is a spiked mohawk. This is how we rebel.
So, what do you say? Do you want to be hopepunk with me? Do you want to flip off the doom and gloom system with a rebellious smile and kind words? Do you want to stick a finger in the eye of the doomsayers by asking the question “what if change actually causes things to get better?” If so, let’s get to work.
We may not win the war against cynicism, but we can punch tiny holes in it all day, everyday, and no one can stop us.