Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hope, That Certain Knot of Futility?

The images posted here are taken from an unnamed e-friend's album on Facebook, and lest you miss the trenchant message they carry, I quote the Biblical passage reproduced below Barack Obama (Micah 7:7):

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
And lest anyone mistake the pellucid words of THE LIVING GOD, the e-friend in question, S___, has given a helpful gloss of their meaning and of the fuller composition:
I wanted to make a t-shirt of this to combat the "HOPE" t-shirts that they had out during that time... This is not anti-Obama, just anti-putting your Hope in man and not in God...where is should be.
I'll forgive S___ for the is/it solecism, if only because I have a soft spot for everyone who experienced the same primary and secondary schooling as I did, and admire all of us who have reached the 2010s without landing in prison or in a shallow grave behind a trailer park.

With that bit of token charity out of the way, S___ here displays two significant problems with our species as currently represented on the North American land mass. First, he either believes, or pretends to believe, or in some other way wishes to perpetuate belief in the belief, that Barack Obama presents himself as a god-replacing "savior" to legions of "followers" -- or, in the milder version of this horseshit, his "followers" so regard him with or without his provable complicity. Too much time and effort has already gone to refuting that idiocy, so I won't add to it here.

The second and more sinister flaw here is in the disparagement of the idea of hope. Maybe S___ has a narrower sense of the word hope than the rest of us -- i.e., maybe it is, for him, strictly a byproduct of personal relationships with Jesus -- but if by hope he means, you know, hope in the everyday sense of aspiring to a better state of affairs -- in life, in politics, in learning, at work, wherever -- then he is embracing a form of despairing misanthropy that goes too far, even for those of us saddled with formative years in Ponca City.

To put it plainly, yes, it would be folly or worse to pile all one's hopes in Barack Obama or any other political figure. Anyone who has done so is ipso facto intellectually and emotionally retarded,* and should seek professional treatment.

Likewise, placing all one's hopes in god leads inexorably to the conclusion that death is to be longed for, since death alone will grant the believer's "heavenly reward," whether defined as everlasting life, salvation, grace, material plenty, a few dozen virgins, or what have you. Everything short of that is futile -- the inevitably broken promises and thwarted hopes of an incorrigibly fallen world.

I say no to both of the above, and I think everyone does whether they wish to acknowledge it or not. There is a wide middle between hankering after political saviors and pining for heavenly ones, consisting of everything worth getting out of bed for. Hope is involved every time we read a book, look forward to vacation, bear a child, save money, seek employment, prepare a meal, write a tedious blog post, take a shortcut, dust the furniture, work out, chide a friend, or do almost anything else. Hope shouldn't be trifled with or dumbed down, and those who flout or minimize it should be seen as the enemies of human flourishing they are -- I am looking right at you, Barack Obama, among others.

* Yes, I said retarded, because that's an apt word for it.

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