20 February 2011

Hope Began Anew

Euardo Galeano
photo by Wikipedia author, Daniel Zanini H
Ojalá podamos ser desobedientes, cada vez que recibimos órdenes que humillan nuestra conciencia o violan nuestro sentido común.

If only we could be disobedient, each time we receive orders that humiliate our conscience or violate our common sense.

Imagine that – Eduardo Galeano’s wish has come to pass.

There are those who look upon the momentous events in North Africa and the Middle East, at the underlying food crisis at the base of these events, at an uncertain future with fear in their hearts, and then there are those who, like, me, are full of hope.

I am in no way optimistic but I remain a prisoner of hope.

Cornel West
photo by Wikipedia author, Esther
Dr. Cornel West differentiates optimism from hope:

I’m never optimistic. From that angle, the evidence is always looks undetermined. But I am full of hope. I never give up on any human being no matter what color, because I believe they all have potential. In that sense, it’s a kind of blues-inflicted hope rather than a cheap American optimism that motivates me.

A cheap American optimism: exceptionalism-based, cheap, because it lacks substance. It lacks spiritual nurturance. It lacks connection. It lacks direction, commitment, accountability. It looks undetermined because it bends reality, denies difficulty, and is blind to pain. It is thirty years of empty promises.

Blues-inflicted hope: reality-based, valuable because it nurtures the soul. It is holistic. It embraces all of reality. It directs our humanity, commits us to empathy, obligates us to work to create a better future. It looks at the fullness of all reality, the difficulties of the past, the pain of the present, and gains strength from them. Promising nothing, it defeats fear.

Ojalá is a way of hoping. Amal, in the Arab world for "hope," omid, to the Persians, esperanza, en castellano, esperança, speranza, espoir, espwa, speranţă, naděje, надія, hoffnung, hopp... hope can stand facing the greatest of obstacles, not only as a challenge, but as an imperative. We are all prisoners of hope, as we are prisoners of life, and of love. Without hope, we are only empty shells, biological machines, alive, yet lifeless.

image from Aberdeen Bestiary
image from Wikipedia
Hope is courage. Hope is heart and soul. Hope fills and spills and flows from one person to another. Hope sustains the struggles of humanity. To hope is to be human.

Even if we are pessimistic, we can still be hopeful. And indeed, the world has watched as courageous souls have stood before tyranny, knowing that their voices stood no chance against brutes with bullets, but knowing that the struggle would not die with them, rather, it would only grow in dignity and strength...

...porque la historia continúa más allá de nosotros...
... porque no tienen fronteras los mapas del alma ni del tiempo.

...because history continues, beyond us...
...because maps have no frontiers of the soul nor of time.

Because we are all one in our common humanity, we are all prisoners of history, of boundless space and time, prisoners of being’s love.

...hope is no guarantee. Real hope is grounded in a particularly messy struggle and it can be betrayed by naive projections of a better future that ignore the necessity of doing the real work.

sister of Egyptian Maat
Celsus library in Ephesus, Turkey
Hope raises our spirits, yet if hope is grounded in the blues, in struggle and pain, in history, then it will not fly away. And if hope can glimmer from one corner of the world, from a people whose hope has sustained them during hopeless times, through struggles that those lacking the vision of courage could not see an end to, from those who vanquished tyranny through the dignity of peaceful expression – from the people of South America who emerged out from under brutal dictatorships, to people of Eastern Europe who parted the Iron Curtain, to people thought to be less human throughout the world who freed themselves from the yolk of slavery and servitude – hope that has shone through and given people the courage to produce evidence that was not undetermined keeps the flame alive for everyone who still struggles for justice and liberty.

Now, that flame has spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, burning in the hearts of an unstoppable wave of humanity, seeking justice and liberty, sometimes through the release of decades of collected anger, but mostly nonviolently. Hope stands before loyal armies as well as thugs from afar with nothing to lose, knowing that history continues beyond them and that souls and maps and time have no frontiers. And anyone else in the world who holds out hope for these people, against great odds, and in the face of their own uncertainty, shares in the movement of courage that is changing the face of our planet.
Hope has begun anew – now if only we can see that we have the power to spread justice and liberty throughout the world.


†Excerpt from Eduardo Galeano’s poem, Los caminos del viento (with my own translation)

‡Excerpt from Dr. Cornel West’s book, Hope on a Tightrope: Words and Wisdom

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