Sustaining Hope In Impossible Times with Paul Loeb

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Day after day we turn on the radio and hear bad news. The headlines are frightening, the images on TV appalling. Our efforts to make a difference seem completely futile. Too often we find ourselves slipping into depression, a sense of hopelessness stealing our resolve to make the world a better place however we can. Is our vision for a kinder, more just world, simply a proverbial "impossible dream"? If not, how can we find the inspiration to continue the quest? Paul Loeb has gathered the stories of activists, visionaries, people who have faced enormous challenges and worked against seemingly insurmountable odds and found their efforts answered, sometimes in unexpected ways. When things look bleakest, Mr. Loeb explains, they've found that "there's something deeper that's more sustaining, that exists above and beyond any particular reasons for optimism." What is that "something deeper"? Paul Loeb shares the answers that inspire him and others who have carried on-no matter what. He points to stories of success that grew out of the very jaws of defeat. And he breathes life back into the sense of possibility that will keep hope alive for each of us. (hosted by Michael Toms)


Paul Rogat Loeb has spent over forty years researching and writing about citizen responsibility and empowerment. He has been a guest lecturer at many colleges and universities including Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and MIT. And, he has been a keynote speaker at a myriad of conferences. He blogs regularly for the Huffington Post and is the founder of the national nonpartisan Campus Election Engagement Project which worked with 750 colleges and universities in 2012 to engage students in the presidential election. This organization continues to help engage students in state and local elections.

Paul Rogat Loeb’s books include:

To learn more about the work of Paul Rogat Loeb go to

Topics Explored in This Dialogue

  • How you can find reasons to be hopeful even when it feels you may be powerless
  • How having hope is different from predicting the future
  • Why hope doesn't have to be realistic
  • Why laughter is an important and necessary element of activism
  • How your efforts can have an impact far beyond your awareness
  • How so many of the people who altered the course of history had every reason to believe they had failed
Host: Michael Toms      Interview Date: 5/8/2004      Program Number: 3046