Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Cheap Hope

Okay, okay, it's been a while. However, I have been writing, only it's the kind of writing that would put you into a welcome coma after the first paragraph. Lately, I've been typing lots of sentences like this one: "These cognitive and social outcomes, which are anchored in social psychological research, have provided scholars with a framework for measuring the impacts of curricular and co-curricular diversity initiatives on campuses nationwide." Don't worry, even I'm not sure what that means, although, damn, it sounds pretty good.

Alas, I have been inspired, finally, and even though I sincerely lack the time during this final rush to the semester's end, I offer you all some... cheap hope.
Yesterday in my Student Activism class I had a kind of epiphany to the epiphany I had several years ago. We were all discussing hope. In the dark. That is, Hope in the Dark, a relatively recent book by Rebecca Solnit who is a self-proclaimed activist. No. Wait. Don't rush off to Save your $13.95 for something that wasn't actually written in the dark. Okay, it's not that bad, and she does bring to light (sorry) some very important points that most of us do not discuss nearly enough.

In case you're just joining us from a seven-year (or twenty-year) stint at the space station, all is not well on our beloved planet. Not only are we poisoning our air, water, and soil, as indicated by the life-sized graphs in Mr. Gore's Oscar-winning PowerPoint presentation, we're also insisting on continuously blowing things up in the name of democracy. Freedom, apparently, can only grow in the compost of destruction. And we have at the helm either the biggest weiner to ever walk upright or the scariest dictator since, well, you get the idea. Funnily enough, no one can tell which he is. But I digress.

The point is, we seem to be doomed. And either we're too stupid to notice, or too tired to care, and definitely most of us are too busy to feel we can do anything about it. Fortunately, there are those of us who have the luxury of meeting every week to talk about how doomed we are and what we should do about it. You must feel safer already, except I hate to tell you that we didn't really come up with anything. And I can't offer you safety, sorry, I've the power of a dust mote compared to the Bilderberg group (well, go ahead, you can Google them now, just come back). However, after a semester of discussing our doom, I can offer you something truly exceptional.

Let me tell you about it. It's something you always have. No one, not even the Bilderbergs of this world, can take it away. Isn't that remarkable? You must feel better already. Let me illustrate what I mean: My mom says we all have this little flame that can never be extinguished, not even in the darkest of times. I believe her because she's been right about everything else (especially about home perms not being a good idea). And I have this friend who believes in reincarnation of souls, which is kind of weird because he doesn't seem to believe in much else, so I have to believe him too. In case you need a third example, go find an old Odetta album, and she'll sing it to you, "This little light of mine...blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah." So this flame, it never dies, not in the dark, and not when we're "dead," and it's even got its own soundtrack. So the epiphany... the flame, it's fueled by hope, see?

Now, this is how to use it. The next time you are feeling as though the world is beyond repair-- this usually includes frustration, anger, despair, depression, anxiety, all those bad feelings derived from a fear that drives us to the mall--don't buy anything. First of all, you don't need anything, despite what MasterCard, Wal-Mart, or AT & T tell you. You have plenty. Secondly, you are complete just as you are, and no snazzy sweater, shiny shoe, or sleek cell phone (or 42" flat screen plasma) is going to make you feel any better about the state of your world or the world around you.

Instead, curl up next to the flame and fill the room with hope. It's cheaper. Sing it, Odetta.


focusfinder said...

Perhaps the kind of political leaders who start "righteous" wars in the name of "freedom" (or any other crazy actions rooted in "I will impose my belief system on all of you at any cost.") do it because it's their equivalent of those of lesser standing getting short-term highs from the purchase giant plasma screens on credit.

The men in power on this planet seem to need to play with only the biggest, darkest, deadliest toys.

Pauline said...

Ah, my Trina, you are a remarkable woman. This post was so worth waiting for. When one shines, it is sometimes all the light one needs. (Still chuckling over the walking weiner.)