Monday, November 29, 2010

Hope

In a mediation on the meaning of hope in this near hopeless situation we find ourselves in, Chris Hedges in this piece doesn't sugarcoat anything. He cites a long litany of things that hope is not. It's not trusting Obama, having a positive attitude or false optimism, chanting campaign slogans, trusting the Democratic party. Moreover there is a longer litany of things hope won't do, such as "awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government." Or stop the war in Afghanistan or stop the pillaging of the economy. It won't wake up the country's religious leaders to practice what they preach.

Hope demands that people do something. It means action. It believes that unless "we physically defy government we are complicit in the violence of the state."

Obviously, if you do this, you're going to pay a cost. It's not comfortable, it's not easy.
Hope requires personal risk. Hope does not come with the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is an action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and the more potent hope becomes. Hope never makes sense. Hope is weak, unorganized and absurd. Hope, which is always nonviolent, exposes in its powerlessness the lies, fraud and coercion employed by the state. Hope does not believe in force. Hope knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on us all. Hope posits that people are drawn to the good by the good. This is the secret of hope’s power and it is why it can never finally be defeated. . . .
Hope is not for the practical and the sophisticated, the cynics and the complacent, the defeated and the fearful. Hope is what the corporate state, which saturates our airwaves with lies, seeks to obliterate. Hope is what our corporate overlords are determined to crush. Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations to think. No. Above all do not think. Obey.
What Hedges is telling us is that any act of rebellion or physical defiance of the the warmongers and corporate and state criminals can draw "the good tot he good," as he puts it. Plus it nourishes our souls and offers the same sweet solace to others.

I can never read these things without feeling terribly guilty. My little forlorn gesture of standing out on a public corner with a peace sign once a week for an hour seems so insignificant and useless. I should be doing more. We're all being swallowed up in violence and greed, and we shouldn't go down without a fight. If not us, who? If not now, when?

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