Monday, January 1, 2018

Our Fear Of Hope

I have noticed that I am reluctant to openly express to people what most gives me hope because it sounds too abstract, too spiritual, too far beyond what is accepted thought. We live in an age of contraction, not of expansion, where ideas beyond the prescribed limits are dismissed as nonsensical. We have stopped openly wondering what we may become, have replaced such wondering with a fear of what we might actually be. Either of these lines of contemplation may lead to the truth—the future shall tell us which—but only one of these possibilities leads us where we want to go. Only one provides us with any hope.

We are in an age paralyzed with fear. Past generations pushed boundaries to discover new continents, placed footprints on the moon. And yet we seem to be unable or unwilling to contemplate a path towards a brighter future for our species and our world. Our one dim hope, technology, is an absurdly outdated notion for salvation. Our literature and our films seem incapable of showing us a better tomorrow, instead giving us bleak dystopian visions where humans struggle against each other like the worst versions of our primitive selves.

In such a climate, we find ourselves keeping our light under a bushel, timidly speaking of hope and change but not daring to speak of revolution and evolution. For some reason we fear to fully realize the greatness of which humanity is capable. We somehow place on the back shelf the examples of the lives of Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Day, and so many others who have demonstrated the hope and beauty of humanity. We do not wish to embrace our greatest power, our capacity for love. Perhaps it is because we fear losing what we have, even though we feel the foundations rattling beneath us.

The path towards the future we want is clearly marked: it has been blazed for us by countless heroes and martyrs for centuries beyond reckoning. And yet we choose other roads, ones that merely keep us within distance of the path we know we should be on. We are too afraid to commit ourselves to what in our hearts we long for. We anxiously wait for others to take the first step so that we may be swept along in the rush of the crowd, but we are too timid to take the first steps ourselves. And we are so easily led astray by the very worst liars and sociopaths who always find an excuse for hatred and greed.

I feel the fear of calling attention to myself, of standing alone with my mad optimism exposed, to say loudly and clearly that another way is possible, that hopelessness, callousness, and selfishness is not all there is. It appears to be folly to speak of hope and truth and beauty in today’s environment. Fear and hate are the only motivating factors now.

I read a quote today by Bill hicks, something about evolution being not an unreasonable idea but in fact what humans as living beings do. Not only is it what we do, it is unavoidable. It brought home to me the fact that what is true today will not be true tomorrow, that what worked yesterday might not be enough to help us get through today. We as humans must change or we will perish. We must react to an environment that has changed, must adapt or suffer the consequences.

Our environment has changed, profoundly. Where once we had uninhabited lands to run to when the inherent troubles of civilizations became too burdensome, there is no longer anywhere we can go to escape our fellow humans. Where once infinite expansion seemed not only achievable but desirable, it is now madness to cling to such an idea.

Once we could play at war because the toys we used were limited in their destructiveness. Now it is only a matter of time, should we continue to behave as we always have, before we destroy ourselves. Where once we could wantonly slaughter animals and lay waste our environment without serious cost to ourselves, such behavior, in the world in which we now exist, is madness.

Values that advanced humanity in a different environment now serve to destroy it. Human vices which the world could once tolerate are no longer sustainable. To speak thus is not conjecture, it is elemental science and it is the commonest of common sense. The environment in which we live now is radically different from any environment humans have so far encountered. It only makes sense that we need to adjust, adapt, to the new reality rather than ask reality to bow to our desire to behave as we have always behaved.

To pretend the situation is different is denial. Most of us realize this, at least on some level, but we behave as co-dependents in the presence of those whose behavior is destroying our lives, our society, and our planet. So violent and insistent are they that we continue to let them play their selfish and self-destructive games, afraid of what will happen if we stand up to them. But we know eventually that we must have an intervention for them, as well as for ourselves. We cannot continue living the way we have been, we cannot continue to tolerate destructive behavior, we must act to alter the situation or be dragged down by the money junkies whose lives are controlled by their addiction.

Adapt and survive, or persist and self-destruct, those are our choices. Evolve to meet the world as it is and not how it once was. A healthy life looks outwards, an unhealthy one leads us ever inwards, constricts what we permit ourselves to be, limits our ability to see the positive changes we are capable of making. Like an addict, our perception of reality becomes so warped we are eventually no longer able to function.

But there is hope even now, just as there has always been, we have just always had other options before now. We have been like a person in a room with the walls closing in. There is a door to the room but we have so far managed to convince ourselves the walls are not moving, or at least not fast enough to worry about. But the walls will continue to push closer until we realize the door is the only option open to us. It is a door our spiritual leaders have been urging us towards almost since we began recording human thought. It is an idea that all of humanity are brothers and sisters, that whatever divides us we have so much more in common. It is an idea that we must treat others as we would like to be treated, that in casting our bread upon the sea of humanity it will give back to us all we require and more.

The day is coming when ideas that have always sounded so wonderful, and yet so far away in some imagined future, will seem the only logical path we as a species have left to us. So much do we fear what might happen if we are unable to achieve it that we have forgotten to imagine how magnificent and natural it will appear when we as a species have at last embraced it. As unlikely as it once may have seemed to us as human flight or the telephone, it is an idea whose time has arrived. And it will come, the moment we seriously assess the options that we have in front of us. Evolution is not merely possible, it is unavoidable.