No one has the right to sit down and feel hopeless.
There’s too much good work to be done.
* * *
Today is the second Sunday in Advent. The second candle represents Peace. The first candle represents Hope.
When it comes to peace, I’m a hopeful pessimist. I don’t expect the advent of peace anytime soon. I’m hopeful it will come. But I’m not holding my breath.
Nor am I praying. Hope doesn’t rely on prayer. Hope relies on work.
Optimists expect things to just get better. Pessimists don’t. (Hence the advice: Always borrow money from a pessimist.)
Hopeful people act to make things better even though such efforts may be in vain. Those working to stop our local polluter Rockwool aren’t optimists.
I’m hopeful peace will come to the world someday. I’m hopeful children everywhere will be safe, fed, and educated.
But I’m not optimistic. I’m pessimistic.
I’m pessimistic because humans, like our chimpanzee cousins, are aggressive by nature, especially—and almost exclusively—the males of each species.
Jane Goodall and other primatologists have observed chimpanzees undertaking murderous rampages against fellow chimpanzees. It’s rare. But it happens.
However, as Goodall remarked, chimpanzees, unlike humans, do not plot months or years in advance. Chimpanzee aggression is considered reactive and adaptive. Human aggression is proactive—and possibly pathological. I mean, why invent a flamethrower?
We can’t wait for evolution to save us. Biological evolution works slowly. Cultural evolution doesn’t. It races along, outpacing our sensibilities.
Whereas human nature hasn’t changed much in a hundred thousand years, the weapons of war have. They have improved. Mightily. And they multiply.
The military-industrial-academia complex is a golden goose. The war machine brings huge profits to a certain few. And that’s another reason for pessimism since greed may be even more pernicious than aggression.
Still, I’m hopeful.
I’m hopeful because as Goodall also noted: Everyday millions and millions of humans are plotting, working together to make the world more sustainable, more just, and more peaceful. And, as far as I know, chimpanzees don’t do that!
Yes, we can plot evil. But we can also plot good.
Many are working to reduce the stockpiles of weapons. Many are working to restrain nuclear proliferation, to resolve conflicts, to rescue refugees. Many are working to redeem masculinity.
Yes, there are reasons for pessimism. But there are also reasons for hope.
See Paula’s photo on the home page. Posted December 5.
I derive some peace from the notion of archetypes- archetypal people; archetypal situations, emotions and behavior- those from which theater grows.
The essence of these primal patterns will never go away; but will ebb and flow. Our reality is made up of them in various levels of concentration. Our maturation as a species is dependent upon the tension which the interactions among archetypal entities produces.
Tension IS life- we learn from the energy of tension. if you stop providing tension to muscle fiber, it dies away. Movement (tension) is a requirement for all living beings. It is our glib interference with the interaction of archetypal planetary patterns which is driving our demise. Conclusion: Everything must wiggle.
I agree. “Create Great Peace” implies action, multiplying little peace – over & over… until the 100th monkey theory kicks in & it IS.
When I pray, when I affirm peace & lite & healing for others & myself, I am choosing optimism over anger, fear & worry – over & over again…optimism in the face of reasonable pessimism. Thanks for provoking thot again & again. 🙏🏼💓
Peace does not end at the tip of my nose. It does begin in the bottom of my heart. Imperfect though we are, let us heed the words of Thich Nhat Hanh: “If you want to change the world, start with your own mind.” Likewise, the words of an old song come to mind: “Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me.”
Those that know war, know peace. The strongest of all warriors know time and patience.
I like your take on a world that seems so out of kilter right now. It reminds me of something I appreciate about Reformed theology–its grounding in hopeful realism. Unlike some other traditions that place us on the road to perfection (justification, sanctification, and glorification), the Reformed Tradition acknowledges that while human perfection is impossible, we still keep seeing and working for the good, even though councils of men (and women) do err. Because there is still light to be shed.
Thank you. Hope without work is sentimentality.
Peace on earth – To Men of Good Will.