Embracing hope in tumultuous times
Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds. — George Santayana
At the moment, chaos reigns across the lands of this glorious earth. I have read that in Hindu philosophy, existence has three tendencies: Sattva — balance, goodness; Rajas — dynamic passions; Tamas — chaos and disorder. “Action that is undertaken because of delusion, disregarding consequences, without considering loss or injury to others or self, is called Tamasic” (Bhagavad Gita Chapter 18, verse 25). Sadly the world witnessed chaos last night in the whirling dervish fever-dream stream of consciousness rantings of he who shall remain nameless. Desperately producing confusion and chaos was the plan. It was a shameful performance, for that is what it was, a performance. Tens of millions, searching for answers to frightening questions, were instead witness to the pitiful portrayal of imaginary strength by an unnerved boor driven by parasitic instincts for survival.
As a student of history, I woke up hearing Thomas Paine’s famous words ringing in my ears. “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.” (The Crisis: December 23, 1776)
All morning I have been trying to make sense of the chaos. I listened to pundits and experts go into great analytical detail backed by historic examples and educated citations. I can’t help myself, perhaps it is my notoriously odd sense of humor, but I find humor is a great way to pierce the darkness. As I wandered along this morning the answer came to me from an unlikely source — Blazing Saddles: “Out of chaos comes order”
And the “Blow it out your ass Howard” sums up the best way to deal with the histrionics of the man whose first day as president was marked by the darkest speech in American history. When asked about the themes of American carnage, former president W Bush said, “That was some weird shit.” And that is what America and the world has been up to our collective necks in recently — weird shit.
But to surrender to the chaos would be to cower from, to borrow a phrase written by William Safire for Spiro T. Agnew (another sack of crap in a suit) nattering nabobs of negativism. We the people of the world must re-invent OUR world. For it is our world. The “rulers” are there to try and constrain the limited, physical tangible world. But we create not out of emptiness but from chaos. Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void but out of chaos. — Mary Shelly
There is a popular misconception in the English-speaking world that the Chinese word for Crisis 危机 wēijī is composed of the characters for dangerous and opportunity. The second character jī 机 means “point of change”. Change breeds opportunity however, so that is where the misconception comes in. We must make HOPE our agent of change. Hope can transform the current gloomy outlook into a landscape of light and renewal.
But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. Martin Luther King, Jr.
What is hope? Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation. Hope is having confidence in spite of negativity. This hopeful courage builds resilience — the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness. Resilience also means elasticity. And elasticity of thoughts is one of our magnificent human brain’s most powerful weapons against the shadows that bear down on us in troubling times. Resilience teaches us survival skills that allow us to live a fuller life. This fuller life nurtures confidence and optimism. And optimism is the luminous beacon that needs to blaze brightly — right now. Today. Lift high your positive light and let it shine, shine shine.
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death. — Robert Fulghum