Following the shock of last weeks announcement that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 had been awarded to Barack Obama in spite of nominations for the prize closing only a few days after he was inaugurated as President of the United States and the winner having been decided by the end of March, less than 13 weeks into his Presidency, many political leaders and pundits have written or spoken out in support of the award. Even the chair of the committee of international great and good has had to go public to explain that the award was made on the basis that Mr. Obama had brought hope to the world.
Hope. If we are awarding prizes for hope that should not the winners medal for the London Marathon be awarded to the obese guy who dresses as Donald Duck to take part every year? Surely he sets of with more hope than any other entrant.
Hope my arse. Hope is for losers, hope is what makes drowning men clutch at straws or the guy facing bankruptcy put on his lucky shirt and head for the casino to risk everything they have left on one last throw of the dice. Hope is what makes politicians talk of green shoots of recovery even as the currency exchange rate goes down the pan.
Hope is all the religious and superstitious nonsense in the world compressed into one four letter word. Hope is a four letter word. Hope is false, forlorn and misbegotten. The hope that springs eternal springs right up your behind.
Hope is what remained cowering in the darkest corner of Pandoras box when everything else had thrown caution to the wind and made the great leap into the unknown. Hope is the last refuge of those who cannot face reality. Hope is for fools.
Delve into literature and we soon get things put in perspective:
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
creeps in this petty pace from day to day
to the last syllable of recorded time.
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
the way to dusty death
Macbeth, Act V Sc 5
Macbeth had not time for hope then, he faced the inevitable with grim resignation thus showing that all talk of hope is empty, we all end up at the same destination. So many people spend their time looking for, hoping for a Messiah who will save and protect them and lead them to a Utopian future in a magic land bathed in golden light. The wise few are enjoying every moment of every day knowing we have all too few days left. Still even when our bodies become frail we can still laugh at the comical antics of the pompous fools who think their empty words and grandiose promises can fork some lightning and change the nature of things.
We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars, said Oscar Wilde when he was looking at a stretch in Reading Jail. At least he understood that while we can look at the stars we can never touch them.
So where does hope stand in relation to reality. Shakespeare can guide us again when we are troubled about what the future may hold:
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Hamlet, Act 3 Sc 1
Having clarified things in his mind with these words Hamlet decides Thus conscience makes cowards of us all. Hope is for those who fear death, the great unknown more than they fear life. It is without a doubt nobler in the mind to take arms against an endless sea of troubles and by opposing end them than to sit in a dark corner of a little box holding hands with hope. A Saxon scribe recorded the words of one renowned warrior who said that we are all cowards, courage lies in having the will to overcome fear and face death joyously knowing we have done our best and could not possibly do more.
To me that beats listening to some preachy wuss wimping on about hope and singing Kumbaya while relying on divine intervention to save us from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
The award of a Nobel Peace Prize to Obama because he gave hope is as ridiculous as giving Billy Graham an honorary doctorate in evolutionary science. If hope is all we have against our endless sea of troubles we have nothing.
So if you have been let down by hope and cant find the will to overcome adversity, embrace nihilistic despair. It offers nothing so you cannot be disappointed.
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