Hope is a phoenix, not a dove

Common images of hope are wimpy: lights at ends of tunnels, birds’ wings, drops of water after a dry spell. But I don’t think hope is like that. I think it is a tide that can well up as a sea change from depths of muck, shipwrecks, and old tires. I think it is a hairy monster that refuses to die. I think it is growly and tenacious and says “f**k you” to things that prod it in the side.

How else would people in real duress survive. Birds’ wings? What? To fly over the 8-meter high concrete walls around the West Bank?

Drops of water? For what, to lift up a couple tissue-petaled flowers when you need a torrent?

A light that’s over there somewhere far away… ? Well, maybe my analogy breaks down on this one. A light in the dark is always a good thing. No metaphors are ever 100% exact because a thing is the thing it is, not something else.

What you need in real duress is not something that can be taken down quickly by a bulldozer, men with guns, poverty, or prejudice.

Hope is the power that rises out of compost. It is what allows families and loved ones to take care of themselves for their future’s sake after their daughter, sister, father, friend is killed in a revolution or protest of Arab Spring or….  Well, you name it. There certainly are enough battles going on around the world.

Hope is “I will not be stopped by you” by a woman raped in India, the DRC, or Minneapolis. Hope is Malala after being shot in the head by the Taliban.

Hope is “you harmed me, but I when I return I will be stronger and I will win, or I will die trying.” And some people win, which is why hope is an evolutionary plus.

Hope is somehow connected to morality. I am not, in case you haven’t gotten the tone, talking about hopes for wealth and power. I am talking about hopes for opportunity, for a chance, for equal rights, safety, expression of true selves, creativity, nourishment and heath, freedom of travel, education, justice.

Hope is somehow connected to morality. It is aligned with steely-backboned non-violence and creativity with little elements of playfulness that give it a Zen advantage and flexibility through repression and deprivation and prejudice.

Hope is somehow connected to morality because it aligns with joy, caring, truth, nourishment, education, being free to dance, and pursuit of happiness in just societies.

Okay, why today does hope rise in me as a tidal wave filled with muck? Oh, just one more idiot in the world against the LGBT community, just one more ploy by Netanyahu, just one more battered woman, just a few hundred more Syrian refugees. Just one more last straw.

And that’s before we get to the starving lions, tigers, horses, and donkeys in the world. Were they always there and only just now coming through my mail slot?

I think I am not alone in feeling that we make a decision to live with hope or live without hope. EXCEPT, it’s not a decision because it’s not a choice. Hope is hard to put down.Try to end it and it will evade you. Try to shut it in a dark room and it will wiggle out through the keyhole. Try to snuff it, and it will burn you.

Hope is life’s desire to live. It says, “You may give up but I won’t, so get over it and keep going.”

For me it’s easy, I’m not in Crimea, or Syria, or Gaza, or the DRC, or Brazil, or North Korea. I am not in poverty, and I am not without health care. I am not clinical depressed. I am infinitely blessed. So why am I kvelling? I’m kvelling because how can I be truly happy when others suffer? I cannot. It is that annoyingly true.

Hope is connected to morality. It does not allow us to be voluntarily blind, deaf, or dumb to others. Hope cuts through excuses. It saves us, individually and collectively. It’s unmercifully stubborn about getting things right.