On Hope


Hope is an aspect of Faith. It requires you to believe — often defiantly — in something, without evidence.It is hard to grasp, to hold onto, to take and keep tightly to yourself.

Despair and defeat, bedmates, are much, much easier to deal with, despite, themselves, also being an aspect of Faith.Like hope, despair does not require proof, because Despair only needs hints and allusions and rumors and suggestions.Hope is the shout from the rooftops, while Despair is the whisper in the shadows.

Which makes despair far easier a friend to have in the times when it is more truly the foe.

Eighteen months, and I have watched the vast majority of my black and brown, gay and trans, bi and undocumented chosen family be surrounded by despair like some sort of ongoing chemical attack against them. A social malaise has grasped those around them and poisoned much of it, especially among those who do not have the power of wealth or privilege to push it away or insulate them from it.

But my brothers and sisters and siblings have for the most part, not given into despair.

Oh, sure, depression strikes. Depression is an interesting example since for years, for decades, it was considered a rarity, an uncommon thing found mostly in women.

Then the studies started including people of color, and then people who were gay and bi, and then folks who were disabled or trans…

… and depression became something dealt with by a lot of people.

Funny how that works, with the human body reacting physically to social violence, and how the brain learns to compensate for that, shaped from a young age in the way it works, chemically and so forth.

Almost as if the conditions that create despair over time make it difficult to grasp onto Hope.

Hope is what is needed more when the thickness of suffering lies around you.

Rwanda, Poland, Korea, the US within the native communities, even, recently, in Venezuela and Honduras…… ask those who survived the worst, and they will tell you it is hope that kept them going. Starved to death, forced to live in the stench of human remains that were people they knew just a day or two before being burned, watching their neighbors gunned down in the streets because they were the wrong sorts…The held out hope. Hold onto hope. Lived with hope, and by it, and became, themselves, part of it.

This is Hope’s importance. It is among the thousand impossible things to dream of before breakfast.

You know despair. Now, with the penultimate moment of white men’s hate and rage about to be enshrined for decades, causing immense harm…

… it is everywhere among those statistically most likely to be dealing with depression.

Hope is in short supply.

But the thinking of it that way is a trap. We forget that the future is more than right now, more than what we see directly before us. We think in terms of the normal order of things even though that normal order is not what we are dealing with already.

We forget that judges can be impeached and Courts can be expanded or contracted in size. We scoff at the idea of people having the power to effect change because of a simple vote, and look instead at the corporatized and wealthy plutocracy that is still being assembled through fascist effort — and forget that they are not done yet. They have hurt us, but not killed us.

We think nothing will change, or it will only for the worse.

Without actual evidence. We do all of this on Faith. On generalized supposition. On “oh come on, everyone knows this” and on “common sense”, which is neither common nor sensible.

We can choose to embrace this despair, and I will tell you that most people will. Because despair is easy, and people will, as a class, always do what is easier.

But not everyone. Some will embrace hope.

Who will be the ones that survive it, do you think?

Who will be the ones that make change happen?

Who will be the ones that start the process of creating something new and lasting, in this second American Revolution, which pits the failures of the past we know against the spirt of the unknown future?

The scientist in me sees the answer.

But she tends to be hopeful…