This piece formed my contribution as curator of the Audacity eZine published by Cynefin Road last month. To read Hope, by a variety of great new writers, look here…
Hope is a dangerous thing. Not because it exists when all other light fails, and not because it’s infinite. Nor because it truly can shape a future. But because it can be sold, dealt in, just as falsely as fear.
It’s a feeling of trust, of faith, of expectation or desire and, because of its construction, hope is pliable.
The world has taken bleak hue, wrestling itself backwards on the words of hate. Seeking a better time which doesn’t exist, other than by construct and running full tilt into a disaster of bigotry, racism. Misogyny. Manufactured not to bring about the decline of elitism, but to preserve elites by placing them on a pedestal.
The short memory of our world is its curse, fuelled by a generation without struggle. Without war.
A sense of entitlement has risen in this climate as fears have shrunk and become broadly petty for the masses, fed by the reality culture. Given legs and wings by the false elevation of equality through decree, leaving people blind to it.
This is the great failure of democracy, both the left and right. Creating false impressions of liberal society through law and policy, without in fact addressing inequality itself. Rather, a dirty wedge has been driven into the problem and the fallacy of it all has created a virus. A push back against forced sentiments in which resentment — and the failure to achieve the dreams sold as available to all — has spread.
In little England this overspilled into Brexit, a quiet rebellion of thought in which people were subtly nudged into believing they had become oppressed by equality. By Human Rights. With the aid of irresponsible tabloids, xenophobic politicians, and the soothing cajole of the Alternative Right movements, the simmering sense of unfairness was steered into a predefined course of action.
There was no protest vote, just the exposure of an underlying problem which pressure cures had failed to heal.
This was mirrored in the United States with the election of a man who is the embodiment of the swamp inhabiting elite.
Hope has shown itself to be a dangerous thing, no better displayed by these two events, because that’s what they softly made the white middle classes buy.
I can’t sell you hope, not now, because it would be as false as what led us all here. There is a great darkness settling upon us all, a long night we face until dawn breaks. And it will be darkest before the light rises once again.
So it’s here that we must make our stand with the clamouring of shadows all around us. Not for ideology, not left nor right, but for decency. For each other. A good which is greater than the sum of ourselves.
I see a lesson in the past, and not the expected, recent sting. Rather than looking to thirties Europe, I see the answer much further back in the teachings we’ve been left to hear yet often ignore.
Once upon a time, beaten and bitter people marched from hard country to consume lands of which they were jealous. To take prizes of control. And they weren’t met by armies. They were confronted by a handful of free people who fought hopeless odds and died in the effort.
The Spartans became the symbol democracy needed to balance itself once again. They became true hope, which can’t be mis-sold. Inspiration. Legend.
My contribution to hope? Sacrifice. The acorn to future’s oak. Before dawn breaks some of us will need to “learn to love death’s ink-black shadow as much as the light of dawn”.