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Hope

In the history of mankind there is only one emotion that I can think of that is both equally uplifting and equally cruel: hope.

Hope keeps you holding on to bad situations, wishing for things to improve.

Hope wakes you up in the morning, puts your feet on the ground, and makes your eyes stay open, when all you want is the sweet, obliterating, deep sleep of sadness.

Hope keeps you afloat when everything else tells you to give up and sink.

Hope teases a light at the end of the tunnel that may be escape, or it may be the train.

Hope puts one foot in front of the other, when all you want is to turn back.

For me hope can be an especially cruel companion. My vivid imagination allows me to see my dream played out, as if it was already happening.  My dream becomes so real, so tangible, that my hope is an after-thought, because the conclusion has already been reached.

I can envision the child in my arms. I can clearly see Connor in mainstream classroom.  I look around my home and I see what could be, not what is.  And it all fills me with joy.

I am a hopeful person.  I can’t help it.

So when life disappoints me, when it falls short of my visions, I feel betrayed by my own heart.  My hope pushes me to such heights of belief that when reality steps in I am shocked.

I don’t despair for long though, it’s truly not in my nature.

I see the good, I look for the bright side, and I always have hope.

Acceptance

I don’t often write about anything current, or anything happening out in the world.  Too much of my energy is consumed by everything happening within my own little universe.  But every once in a while something happens in the rest of the universe that makes me pause.

I’m sure like millions of other Americans I was shocked and saddened by the events in Colorado last week.  I was baffled by such violence.  My thoughts immediately turned into prayers.  And like so many others I wanted to know why, why had this happened?  I wanted a reason why someone could be driven to do such a despicable thing.  I wanted something that would explain why a dozen people had died.

Surely there was a failure somewhere.  There was some trigger.  There was a series of events that could have been prevented had someone only known.  There had to be!

But as days passed and no motive became clear I began to question why I even needed one.  What would it change?  The dead would not rise.  The wounded would not be healed by those words.  The shock, terror, grief felt by the hundreds (if not thousands) of lives touched by this event would not be erased by knowing why.

Even if we ever learn why this young man decided to enact this calculated plan to murder and terrorize it may never give us the closure we could hope for.  There is never going to be a reason good enough.

There is only madness.

Don’t misunderstand, I have no proof of mental illness.  I have no inside knowledge that this man is insane.  But, to me, mental illness in this case wouldn’t matter either.  His acts were so heinous as to over-ride even the terribly sad existence of those who suffer within their own minds.

No, these acts of violence speak of a madness that is all too common.  It can be seen in the gang members who kill pedestrians in a drive by shooting.  It can be seen in the ex-soldier who murders his family.  It’s found in home-grown terrorists like Timothy McVeigh and foreign terrorists like Mohamed Atta.  It lives in the hearts of genocidal dictators and child abusers.

This madness that perpetrates violence knows no distinction between race, religion, age, political belief.

People will always arrive at conclusions and uncover motives that hope to explain away why such horrendous acts are committed.  But words can no more explain the death of millions of Cambodians under Pol Pot than they can provide reason for the murder of a handful by the Manson family.

Such acts of violence, such atrocities are beyond reason.  They are beyond understanding.

All we have left is acceptance.  We can choose to be tortured by the search of reasons that would explain away such horror.  Or we can choose to accept that bad things happen.  It’s a sad fact.  It’s a fact that’s been true throughout human existence.  There will always be people who are cruel, violent and infected with this madness that urges them to destroy lives.

Though that’s a terribly depressing thought, it has somehow given me peace.  Knowing why will not make the dead live again.  It won’t make evil become good.  It won’t help horror be undone.  Acceptance that this happened and nothing anyone can say will make it any different has made terror a little easier to bear.

I’m sure people will disagree with me.  I’m sure there are those that believe evil can be eradicated.  I truly hope they are right.  There will be times when reasons can be uncovered and possibly guarded against in the future.  There will be times when evil exists only for its own sake.  So I will accept that for every evil deed that is done dozens of good deeds are perpetrated.  I will continue to try to be an agent of kindness.  I will teach Connor to be kind.  As a family we will be kind to people and animals.  We will donate to charities.  We will speak to strangers, we will help people up who have fallen, we will protect the weak and innocent when we can.  We will do everything we can to make our corner of the universe filled with love and compassion.

When evil does happen, we will shake our heads at the re-emergence of this madness, and pray for the souls of the victims and the perpetrator.  And we will accept that evil is a part of the world and move on.  We will honor the living and banish evil doers to the corners of our memory.   We will not dwell on this madness but move forward, out of its grip.  We will accept life.