Hoping beyond hope
0 comment Monday, June 30, 2014 |
The post below this one is one that I would have preferred not to write, because I don't like having to be critical of those who I believe are mostly on my side. But lately I sense that our side is going off the rails a little. I see that certain people are getting discouraged and dropping out, or becoming very negative and cynical and bitter. I see so much division on our side, and I see it getting worse.
We need, I think, to focus on our urgent needs, to focus on what is important, on what it is we are struggling for, and not to get caught up in ideology or side-issues which are, after all, of secondary importance if not irrelevant ultimately.
In reading through my usual list of blogs, I found myself skipping a lot of them, because so many have been belaboring the same issue for a week or more now. Look at the anti-Palin marathons at some of the paleo forums. It's clear they are not on the same page with me, and I feel quite alienated from many people that I once considered allies.
And then on one of my regular stops, I came across a link to a post from a blog (a conservative blog? I could not tell) which was so steeped in bitter nihilism that it momentarily left me feeling very discouraged and bleak. That feeling may have colored my previous post, although I stand by what I said.
But this bitter blog post I read (no link) seemed to consist of this implicit message: ''Americans, including you, reader, are all stupid, lazy, and hopeless, and you will go under as a nation as you deserve to do, and I will gloat as I watch it happen.'
Seriously, that was the gist of what this blogger was saying, though he said it in other words. Clearly, he considered himself a superior being compared to the rest of us ignorant cattle, and he seemed to be taking some kind of twisted satisfaction in contemplating the fall of America, which he fully expected to happen. I guess that passes as profundity in some quarters.
How did we come to this as a nation? Now, I fully understand if the blogger in question feels discouraged and depressed, and even a little disgusted with the state of this country. But I don't understand that kind of nihilism and doomsaying. Some say I am pessimistic, but as I have said repeatedly, if I were a real pessimist, this blog would not exist. And although I get frustrated and impatient with my fellow Americans (including those called 'conservatives') at times, ultimately I have an enduring faith that there is something good and something worthy of preservation and restoration in this country. I have no illusions about our country's failings, nor do I see my people as anything other than imperfect and human (in both the good and not-so-good sense of that word) but neither do I view my brethren as hopeless and stupid.
There are hopeless and stupid individuals among us, without a doubt, but there is still something in us that gives me cause for hope and which motivates me to keep on keeping on. I occasionally see glimmers of that old spirit which made our country great in the past.
Just as we don't give up on our family members even when they are failing to live up to their best selves, or to our expectations and hopes for them, we don't give up on our extended family, our national extended family when things look bad. We keep on trying, and we hold in our hearts and minds what it is that we love about our family, and what we know they are capable of being at their best.
And even beyond that, even if we have family members, as most of us do, who are pretty sorry people at times, they are our sorry people. They belong to us. We belong to them. Blood is thicker than water.
We don't pick our family members; God picks them for us. Sometimes we wonder what we have in common with some of those family members, but we know they are our blood, so we put up with them, and try to help them to pull themselves up. Sometimes our efforts and our hopes pay off, and they make us proud eventually -- but it takes patience to get to that day, usually.
So I hold on, patiently, (sometimes impatiently) working towards a day when our people will once again be what they can be, what they might be, what they were in better times.
What I will not do is give way to pessimism, defeatism, bitterness, and loathing for my fellow Americans.
We are all in this together, if we only knew it.
The right, in particular at this time, seems to be prone to bitterness and anger about the state of things in our country. And some people, rather than giving way to that kind of dark outlook, prefer to pretend that there is no crisis, and no threat, and they prefer to go about their daily lives as if the wider world did not exist. That, too, is a problem -- but on the other hand, we need to do that. We need our smaller lives, our friends, neighbors, and our family circle to give us purpose, to focus us, and to motivate us. That can keep us positive for the larger struggle in the outside world. Our immediate duties are to those around us, after all. But still, we cannot pretend the larger, more threatening world does not exist; it will not let us alone forever.
We need to see our families and dear ones as being the reason to work for the future, and our incentive to stand against the threats that are pressing towards us. It's for our children and our posterity that we have to keep working and speaking out and doing all we can.
And those we love and care for give us the positive motivation, and they keep us from being embittered and full of anger at what is happening.
The attitude of fatalism and nihilism must not be allowed to take hold and grow if we are to persevere in our efforts. Faith and hope, in God and in our brethren will carry us through, but once we have lost those, we have lost the struggle.
"It is necessary to hope, though hope should be always deluded; for hope itself is happiness, and its frustrations, however frequent, are yet less dreadful than its extinction." - Samuel Johnson