Thu Oct 5th, 2006 at 01:19:41 PM EST
So often, we talk of hope in very general, well-meaning, global terms. Hope, though, is far more personal than that. Hope is borne not so much of strength but a last stand against succumbing to despair. And that is the paradox; for the thing that is strongest when we are not is what so often carries the day.
So, what is this `hope thing', anyway? The way I see it, hope is the combination of yearning for remedy and the confidence (call it faith; I do) that it will be delivered.
Hope is what we need to transcend our specifications, both physical and psychological, to become more than what we are right now, to even have a prayer of success when, by the numbers, there's no point in doing anything but resigning the field and letting despair prevail.
And yet hope is not merely a call for deliverance from bad circumstances, but in many instances is a challenge - to deliver ourselves from hurtful errors and willful damage, sometimes afflicting us, sometimes negligence or choices that have we have made, and have afflicted others.
From that vantage, hope is borne of the need to make good, make better, make well, make right that which is not.
Sometimes, hope is a question of self, and place. We find ourselves cut off, isolated, incoherent, incapable of making a meaningful, purposeful and pleasant connection with others, and with the places and communities in which we find ourselves both crowded and exiled at the same time. If you ever find yourself painted into such a dark corner, hope may be the only lifeline that you need...or have.
Sometimes, hope is a question of sacrifice or risk for the greater good. We might call on others to pitch in; as often as not, we realize that it is our turn to do without, that others may make do, or even thrive. Our lives, our happiness, and our purpose in life are not measured in isolation, but in how we bring happiness and value to others. Sometimes, this vocation is challenging, often, it is a light burden to carry, like a laughing child. If you ever find yourself balking at such a sacrifice, and wonder why there is an emptiness in your arms where a laughing child once pointed in wonder at a vast and interesting world, well, you had better have hope watching your back.
Sometimes hope is about mending fences, making apologies matter, making peace with enemies and restoring connections with estranged friends. I can only estimate the number of friends I no longer have; they outnumber the ones I possess by perhaps 20-to-1. I can rationalize much of this figure away as a consequence of changing schools, jobs, locations, interests and circumstances for either myself or my erstwhile comrades. Some partings of ways, however, are painful. Others are wrathful, and the damage and bad choices have run both ways. How, but through hope, do we find our way home through the ruins? How many times did I despair of even trying after a truly bad argument or uncomfortable conversation, then went and said or did something to intentionally burn the bridges that might afford reconciliation later on? How many times was this done to me...or my mutual effort? More than I can count. How many times has a truly petty peeve become for me a paramount crisis that must be dealt with summarily, or all my dreams end forever? How many times have I passed off major affronts as matters of no consequence, and as surely offended in that fashion? How can I possibly hope to...stop being me at my worst? How can I possibly hope to make right what I am so gifted at making wrong? Yet hope I do.
It's about hoping that we are not bound by our last defeat, or setback, or mistake, or bad choice, that there is a path toward restoration, reconciliation...and forgiveness...either to obtain it, or obtain the strength to grant it.
Hope - false hope - can be just as devastating, of course. But false hope lies past hope, and is an error of trying too hard to make reality into something that it is not. I say: If the intentions are good, there are worse crimes.
What we hope globally, and how we hope, and how we pursue those hopes, is borne of what we hope for ourselves, and why we have such needs, and from whom and to whom we must alternately make way toward...or make a place for.
Otherwise, what is the point of hope? I cannot become a better person on my own, nor can any of us. We are truly lost in isolation; it is if nothing else a spiritual death sentence, when sustained, when absolute, when such exile is forever.
I've had a lot of time to ponder such things, and more than a plateful or reasons to do so.
Since this is, after all, a political blog...
Soon, it appears, we will be holding an election and the outlook for the current majority in Congress to at least have to start sharing power again is looking quite high. I hope we are better in victory than our rivals were, and I hope our friends on the right are of a mind to recall that their stewardship of the Republic was but a temporary assignment, and likewise our own turn will be such this time around, and that if not our own generation then those to come will have to live on the same landscape, if not in the same land, or face the prospect of not living at all.
I've despaired, from time to time, as to what the future holds for our country. I am certain, beyond doubt, that the best days of our country lie ahead of us, that it will be quite a long time, indeed, before the last banner is furled and taps is played for the final time.
But such pretty words will not forestall contentious and dangerous days ahead, if the two Americas cannot learn to be one country again. Or, if such never was the case, cannot learn to give the Union they both claim to love and honor an honest try.
Here we have all the needs for hope together
And for a personal wish list...
- a need to end the alienation, and hope to find those ties of common heritage, liberty and fellowship that once made the mightiest empire to ever straddle the Earth take pause;
- a call to set aside some goals, some of ours, some of theirs, for both camps to make sacrifices, to identify and realize ways to build a true Commonwealth; and
- the utmost need to make what has gone so utterly wrong these past few years righteous again, for the liberty and justice for all. It will fall on our rivals to accept justice; it will fall on ourselves to be magnanimous in its dispensation, where possible.
I hope we will be fellow Americans again.
I hope we will be neighbors, too.
I hope we will mend our fences.
I hope our friendship stays true.
I hope we can stop fearing words.
I hope we can agree on what's true.
I hope we can regain our honor.
I hope we can forgive you.
I hope we're generous in triumph.
I hope we're stern come the test.
I hope we relearn rule of law.
I hope we remember what's best.
I hope we give thanks for a long peace
I hope we are true to one creed
I hope we never say "no thanks"
I hope we are there when you need
I hope we rebuild New Orleans
I hope we depart from the sands
I hope we call our children home
I hope we end foolish plans
I hope we find cause to smile
I hope we sing anthems loud
I hope we grow old together
I hope we're once more tall and proud.
Appendix: Personal Fodder for this Posting
Courtesy, Ghosts of Christmas Past.
I wish I could have gotten to know you better
I wish I could forget how much this meant
I wish I was free of this
I wish you loved me, too
I wish I'd not called so often
I wish you would stop calling me incompatible
I wish you would tell me how angry you really are with me
I wish I never have to hear your rage again
I wish you took time to live, not just be alive
I wish you could see how lovely you are to me
I wish I could let go of you
I wish I could hold you and never let go
I wish I had chased after you
I wish I had never gone
I wish I had not kissed you
I wish I had kissed you
I wish I could see you, one more time
I wish this would just end
I wish I could share how much it hurts to be apart
I wish you stay free of such hardship
I wish you knew how much your jokes impale my heart
I wish you knew how your laughter resurrects me
I wish you would call me
I wish you missed me
I wish you every good thing
I wish I were one of them
I wish you knew as I do that I am
I wish you could see how happy you are with me
I wish I could guard your sleep again
I wish you a prayer every day