In the wake of the horror in Tucson, introspection forces me to ask the question: why hope? That, and seeing the question posed in a couple of other places in the last few days. I figure God is nudging me, so I ponder.
I don’t have much new to add I suspect to the mix. I’ve always been shocked and amazed at the lengths the human person will go to survive; well beyond what might seem rational at times.
One can say, well, animals do as much. And indeed they do. Every animal will fight to live until the bitter end. But of course, they don’t have the fine ability to assess their chances, they have no idea of consequences, they cannot reflect on a life lived and conclude that enough is enough.
We humans can do all those things. And the fact that we don’t hurl ourselves off cliffs with regularity suggests that something more is at work. It is something in our DNA undoubtedly, something that drives us, regardless of common sense, to hope, to struggle until we breathe our last.
Some would argue no doubt that it is part of our evolutionary primitive brain. Like animals, the urge to live and procreate overwhelms our senses and we never give in to simple acceptance of our fate. Our atheist friends would argue that our belief in a god is but another attempt to forestall the inevitable death, by promoting a concept of eternal life in the Creator.
That may be true, or not. We each will learn that at the appropriate time. But I find it hard to believe why there is such a strong desire to live at all costs, that is simply evolutionary in nature. Why and how does such a thing come about? One can claim that those with stronger drives to survive, survive in greater numbers and procreate, and thus dominate the landscape. So what? Why need this be so?
No, an equally cogent claim can be that our God has placed within us this urge to live, that it pleases our Creator that we live and grow, hopefully in relationship with each other and with the Godhead.
Yet this doesn’t explain why WE hope, or why I hope. Surely I can point to various times in history, and to places today, where life is mean and harsh. Where life is cheap, short-lived, and brutal. Where life doesn’t seem worth the living frankly.
In contemplating that, I can place my own anger and hopelessness at the state of our country and of some within it, in some perspective.
Still, that is no answer, for we are all, in the end, products of our own time and place. Empathize as I do, as I can, cannot supplant the reality of the only world I know, my own. And so my afflictions are the medical problems, however minor, that I suffer, the political intransigence that I witness, the pigheadedness I engage with regarding all manner of issues, and the carelessness toward Mother Earth that I endure.
And yet I remain hopeful.
Somehow, in the cold and snow of another miserable winter, I arise with some measure of hope, even though the day will proceed nearly the same as yesterday. It will be mundane, with small points of laughter, but as many of anger, and angst, of frustration, with smatterings of relaxation, satiety, and peace.
I can look at the events of Tucson and see bravery amid the blood. I can see selflessness amidst the carnage. I can see messages of hope that spring like spring flowers from the asphalt of a red spattered parking lot.
I read this yesterday:
“Last week we saw a white Catholic male Republican judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean American combat surgeon, and this all was eulogized by our African-American President.” ~ Mark Shields,
I witnessed tributes to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yesterday that I would not have witnessed twenty years ago, certainly not thirty. I see the numbers rising in support of the rights of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Women in positions of power and authority are commonplace, hardly remarkable any more.
I can watch television shows and movies that push the envelope, making us see gay families, transgenders, immigrants, and all the “others” in our society as simple people like ourselves, who hope, dream, love, desire, work, play, laugh and cry just as we do. Make no mistake, media has great power to help us along here.
We watched GLEE for the first time, last night. Yeah I know, late to the party. We thought it was a teen show, and we learned something quite different. Gays, physically impaired, emotionally scarred, the dangers of penal institutions to our youth, the realities of so much of life that we sweep under rugs in our minds. They showed it all in frankness, in honesty, but lovingly with hope.
This is why I hope. We have the capacity to each day be a bit better than the day before. And by the grace of God, or by our own genetic where with all, we seem to do it. I trust we will.
- We Are All Wounded (psychologytoday.com)
- Helping children cope with tragedy ()
- As shock subsides, pain sets in for Ariz. victims (msnbc.msn.com)
- David Shields: The Writer’s Job: Aggravate The Fear Of Death (huffingtonpost.com)
- Americans ponder King in wake of Tucson shootings (thegrio.com)