People just want a glimmer of hope amid the crisis, says British poet

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 12) - In these trying times, poet and filmmaker Tom Roberts said that people are just looking forward to something they can be hopeful for.

“People are incredibly resilient. Sometimes, they need a glimmer of something to be hopeful for,” the British poet told CNN Philippines’ Not Politics As Usual.

His viral poem “The Great Realisation” presents a hopeful view of how the coronavirus pandemic will change the world for the better.

Roberts' bedtime story-like approach on the poem caught the attention of millions of viewers around the world including Hollywood actor Jake Gyllenhaal.

“I think the reason why it touched many is because it’s a universal message that we are all looking for,” he said.

“If we are all surrounded by messages of fear and distrust and isolation, then that would start to affect the way we feel and look at the world. I was attempting, I was determined to find a hopeful message in the situation.”

Yet, Roberts said the hope he wanted people to have is something that does not disregard the dark reality we are currently facing.

“That is not to ignore how difficult the situation is right now..We can use this bad [situation] or disruption as a way of kick starting something better or desirable for many,” he said.

How “The Great Realisation” turned into reality?

Roberts shared that spending with his family during the lockdown in the United Kingdom inspired him to write the poem.

“One of the things that inspired me is the fact that this situation personally allowed me to reexamine and smooth the imbalances in my life,” he said.

While his parents and older sister all work in the hospitals, Roberts acted as a second parent to his two seven-year-old siblings.

“A lot of the days I spent time becoming their teacher...every night I read them bedtime stories, and these stories are always about dragons and witches, and kings and queens, and those times were very long time ago.”

He added, “What if the things that we found problematic in the world today, one day will become the stuff of tales and stories? So that thought inspired me to sit down and write this poem, film this poem, and share this poem.”

Roberts admitted that being optimistic is difficult, yet, he believes that it is something that can be learned.

“Actually, it’s harder to be optimistic, I think it requires less work to be pessimistic,” he said.

“But if you put that in work to try to look for the good within and try to force yourself to embrace optimism, then I actually think there’s an excellent reason to do that because the world around you will feel brighter and lighter.”

His next piece titled “A Tale of Two Mindsets”, which tackles optimism and pessimism, will be released tomorrow.

With the positive feedback on his poem, Roberts said he is thankful that some people find his piece useful.

“The highest praise or reward you can receive is to feel that you contributed something useful.”