Hope: A Garden Of Seeds With Flowers Maybe Later

by Eric Le Roy

Content 18+ In reading Mr. Anderson’s short dissertation entitled “Hope: A Poisonous Delusion that Beguiles Humanity”, I had the gun to my head, ready to pull the trigger, when my old dog Casper, a glorious Rhodesian Ridgeback who, like me, has seen better days, started squirming and whining and dancing his all too familiar, “Daddy, I really have to have a toilet break!” He stared at me with his big brown eyes that stated the problem unequivocally: ”Dude, I can’t wait much longer.”

This was one of those moments when Hope enters your life.

So I put down the gun and ran for the door (I don’t remember who got there first). Quickly, frantically, I assessed his posterior factory as we descended the stairs. It seemed to be churning, growling, and heaving like a Vladimir Putin Weapons of Mass Destruction factory – well on its way to manufacturing a great stack of продукты.

Outside, there was still the gate to reach, and any nuclear meltdown now would afflict the neighbors more than me, so I continued to plead and hope, until we reached the promised land – a dirt alley just beyond the gate. Then Mr. Sipples (as I usually address him ) proceeded to, as we say in French and Latin, let her rip.

My prayers had been answered, my ‘hoping against hope’ (as they say) tactic worth the venture.

Subsequently, the cargo having been delivered, we went back inside and I started ruminating again on the subject of Hope. With regard to Mr. Anderson, let it be said that I am his partner in gloomy forecasts most of the time and an ongoing admirer of his eloquence. But I confess to stumbling at the last hurdle while on the subject of Hope. After all, it “springs eternal”, doesn’t it?

In truth, it seems to me that ‘Hope’ is one of those concepts which, like trying to subdue a greasy pig in a mud-wrestling contest, simply eludes easy resolution. Anderson deplores the syndrome of Hope Without Action, and that seems reasonable enough. If you spend all your time sitting on the toilet and working crossword puzzles, there is no way you are going to ‘hope’ your way into the cockpit of a state-of-the-art fighter jet aircraft. Nor will the most fervent self-abuse secure you a spot between the sheets with the lady of your dreams.

Potential without Performance is Nothing. Luck is when Preparation meets Opportunity. Hope without Action is Nothing.

I’m not much for slogans and I can’t afford a ticket to attend a Tony Robbins Shout-a-thon, and I wouldn’t if I could. But I am also aware that, in a world of increasingly drearisome semantics and disclaimers, PC nonsense and memes, emojis, and acronyms, sometimes it’s best just to bust out with it. Like ‘Shit or Get Off the Pot’ (a call to action if ever there was one. I’m buying the ‘Hope without Action’ bit. And thus, to that extent I agree with Mr. Anderson.

I am also in accord with his point that ‘Hope’ is often used as a marketing ploy, a standard sales pitch from the politicians and dictators, as well as traditionally from the high ranking official in the Church. ‘Religion Incorporated’ as the American comedian of the ‘50s and early ‘60s Lenny Bruce put it. In that sense, ‘Hope’ is nothing but snake oil. The rich and gilded rascals in the clergy have spent the 2000 year regime of Christianity TRYING to convince poor people that there is nothing amiss in the fact that the priests live in mansions and the poor folk dwell in mud huts made of dried cow shit.

“Don’t worry,” the high prelates intone, “God is just testing you. The great rewards are in the future (beyond the graveyards to which you are all headed). So, NO SWEAT. GOD’S GOT YOUR BACK.” Brief pause. “AND WE KNOW THIS BECAUSE WE GET MESSAGES FROM GOD EVERY DAY. Another pause as the priest's stern but divinely inspired eyes criss-cross the room slowly like a tolling bell. “SO DON’T FUCK WITH US, AND YOU’LL BE OK. GOT IT? NOW LET US PRAY.”

Yeah, in that sense Mr. Anderson is right. Moreover, there are plenty of sagacious philosophers who say much the same thing. To wit:

“Hope is the last thing a person does before they are defeated.” (Henry Rollins)

“He that lives upon hope will die fasting.” (Benjamin Franklin)

“Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torment in man.” (Friedrich Nietsche)

The idea seems to be that no amount of idle hope is going to change the inevitable outcome of things (from the human standpoint) that are the warp and woof of Nature. “Life Sucks and Then You Die” proclaimed the bumper sticker I used to see in, of all places, the United States. (Isn’t that the hallowed land where dreams come true?”) In fact, the inspirational testimonies of people who have overcome overwhelming odds to achieve their goals are inspiring only because they are relatively rare. Often they describe only a small part of a life otherwise unfulfilled on part of the sudden hero, a chronicle of years of grubby groping, somehow rescued by one titanic breakthrough perhaps carried out not by them, but by someone else: the surgeon that saves the dying heart; the lifeguard that pulls the faltering swimmer from the sea.

When the rescue team arrives in time, we listen to the same chorus: “Our prayers were answered because we never lost hope!” If a plane crashes and everyone onboard is killed except for a lucky few, the unlikely survivors – Lottery winners in the Life and Death Sweepstakes –cry out in gratitude to the God who spared them and a universe where order has been restored, clamorously certain now that the Good Lord is thus vindicated and proven to have been awake in the Watchtower all along. The problem with that is, for all those whose Hope let them down, their body parts are scattered around the crash site like the debris on a beach after the tourists have gone home..

And so, are we to conclude, as Mr. Anderson has done, that Hope is no more than a pathetic Ticket Taker of Make-Believe whose event organizers are Grand Manipulators and Wizards of the Shrouds? I swear to the God that I don’t believe in – that Mr. Anderson’s bleak stare at all the psychological fortifications we build against the life-emptying void whose gray and grim-faced soldiers seize us by the collar on their way into the black hole – is convincing in its cold confidence, its utter lack of nods at escape routes and exits.

It almost makes me ashamed to confess that, for all the daily Bad News that bears down on my very limited capacity to change much of anything except my own behavior, I still believe in Hope.

Nietsche also said: “He who has a ‘why’ to live can bear almost any ‘how’.

And: “To live is to suffer, and to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.”

So, as I contemplate such words, I begin to think that Hope is not simply a Blind Date with Miss Oblivion – or some wonderful mythical bird gliding over rough seas too tempestuous for us to sail across – in other words, not an unattainable something or other into which we can ever embroider our small fantasies of ultimate conquest, connection, and comfort – but rather something which is within the fabric of ourselves. It forms the nature of our interest in life, our essential curiosity. Hope defines tomorrow’s possibilities as long as we try to put our hopes into action.

Think about it. Let’s locate ourselves back into that commercial airliner that has developed severe engine problems. The plane is in danger of crashing, and the passengers are understandably terrified. They want to live. But they can do nothing, and because of that, they engage in the kind of Hope that, by Mr Anderson’s extended definition, is a waste of time. I mean, the fucker is either going to crash or it’s not, right? Nothing they can do about it except Hope it won’t.

But there is a different kind of Hope at work, and that one is taking place in the cockpit of the aircraft where the pilots are using all their skill and ingenuity to try to save the plane. The captain and co-pilot first try this and then try that. No result. The plane is wobbling, on the verge of going into a dive; the passengers are shrieking and shouting prayers to a God that is off somewhere screwing the Virgin Mary. The captain has 20 seconds to attempt One Last Idea to keep the plane airborne. It’s a wild chance, but it’s all he has, and he HOPES it will work.

It does.

The plane lands and everybody applauds the pilots and starts thanking God.

But in fact the plane was saved – and all the lives inside – because the pilot combined Skill with Hope. If he had lost Hope, he would have lost the plane.

In this sense it seems to me that Hope – genuine and meaningful Hope – resides in the ‘hearts’ and minds of parents who raise their children to the best of their ability in hopes that these kids will turn out OK. Hope is justified when love is given Freely and not as part of a bargain. You Hope that it will be reciprocated because you have tried to earn it, but you accept that there are no guarantees. And indeed, Hope is Spirituality, which is different from Religion. In this sense Hope is what happens when you respond with an open mind to that strange something which is hardwired into you, like the faint voice from a swirling distant river – the primordial elements that still exist in you – which insist that something, something, something out there somewhere knows and cares.

As disgusting as Religion Incorporated, Big Pharma, Corporate Culture, and the Body Politic can be, there is nothing contemptible about possessing the humility to accept that YOU are not the receptacle of all knowledge and truth, and that just because YOU cannot see it, this does not mean that is isn’t there. So in this sense, all science and technology may, in the final outcomes, prove to be nothing more than Today’s Mythology.

The ancient man thought the sun was a god. The modern man believes that a dollar bill is God. Both were, are, and always have been, sheer mythology.

Ah. So we are back to meaning after all – the search for meaning in a place without meaning. That is the existential dilemma, after all, isn’t it? To make sense of an absurd universe? Well, making sense of something – absurd universe or no – means attaching value to something, whatever – if not the received ‘value’ insisted on by God, then value superimposed, like imaginary stamps to real envelopes. These stamps represent Imagination. And when something starts to make sense – even if they are only the perceived rules to a cosmic video game, it imprints itself on our consciousness like syrup to a pancake.

Hope is part of our fabric, but it works best when it is understood as an instigator, an appeal to action. It is when we make critical decisions – the Best we can do – and then are prepared to live and die by those decisions which we have every right to Hope will pan out.

So what Mr. Anderson has done, in my humble judgment, is to confuse Hope with Wishful Thinking. The former can lead to the fighter jet’s cockpit; the latter can keep us stuck to the toilet seat.

In an absurd universe – and none of us are really sure that it’s absurd – we still have the responsibility to make the correct decisions (to the extent we can), and then there is nothing wrong with hoping they pan out. I mean, what are we supposed to do, Not Hope?

And, oh by the way, I guess we are all counting on the fact that, following today, tomorrow will come. I’m saying, there will be a tomorrow, right? The world will not end today, can I hope for that? And if I stay up all night just to make sure, then can I be pretty sure I will see the rising of the sun?

Or, if I go to sleep, may I believe – which is another way of asking, may I hope – that there will be such a thing as tomorrow?

What do you think, Mr. Anderson? What are your plans for tomorrow? I ask this question because we both know damned good and well that there will be one. At least we Hope so.

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