As an academic, and since I can remember, I have been ‘trained’ to be ‘critical’. At first I was not really sure about the implications of this, I just learned that I needed to question everything before accepting any information as ‘true’ or ‘reliable’. In time, I became critical about the word ‘critical’. After embracing a ‘capital C’ Critical view of the world, I realised I was becoming a pessimistic, and as a Peace Studies researcher, I found this was a big contradiction that served very little to the world (and myself).
The way I came to this realisation, however, was not an intellectual process. I owe it to my experience in observing the societies I studied. In the midst of major problems and apparently insurmountable structural constraints, I saw people living their daily lives more mindfully than I did, while hoping that things would eventually improve, even though they did not know how.
But, more than this, what truly inspired me were the children I met along the way. Regardless of the obvious different environment they were living in, they were no different form the way I was in my childhood. When I was drained from focusing on all the problems surrounding their lives, they refreshed me with that innocent joy that only children seem to be able to provide, by laughing, dancing, singing, posing for pictures, and freely expressing their curiosity…
Here a bit of those inspiring moments that reminded me to be more hopeful than critical — and use criticism as a step to make the ‘hopeful’ a ‘reality’.