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.