I was asked recently “What do we have the right to hope for?” As one educated by the scientific method as we all have been I ended up listing the base expectations of life. I am still a little shocked as to what I did. Because if I did this then what would others do? In the light of this there is a dawning realisation that hope has atrophied.
If you know enough about muscles and how they work you will know the word atrophy. It describes a wasting away, a weakening of the muscles due to lack of use, injury, illness, or disease. If we continue with the muscle analogy we can think of hope as a muscle. One that when it is used well brings balance.
It is part of the equilibrium of the person, of a community. Hope aids in our growth, we learn what is and is not to be hoped for. We learn what is possible and what is impossible.
When hope is strong and the boundaries between hope and hopelessness are well defined there is resilience. In this situation when the boundaries of hope are discovered the one searching will change what they are doing. We see kids do this. If it does not work they try another way, sometimes.
Nailing Jelly to A Tree.
Occasionally there are those who will try again and again to get different results from the same method. It will lead to despair. I was once told the aphorism “nailing jelly to a tree”. Something that is supposed to be impossible. There is a way to nail jelly to a tree and that involves freezing the jelly, drilling a hole in the now frozen jelly and hanging the frozen jelly on a nail.
A complicated technique which requires a method that involves the use of specialised tools for just that purpose. Method creating a technique assisted by technology enabling us to solve a riddle.
Nailing jelly to a tree should be like ‘the sound of one hand clapping’. Both are supposed to bring you into a state of contemplation, to offer you a riddle, a mystery that cannot be solved. Those who have watched The Simpson’s will know that one hand clapping is an ‘easy’ fix. Of course Bart will be a smart alec and ‘solve’ the mystery of one hand clapping. His solution is quick and it avoids entering into the mystery of the riddle.
To help Bart understand mystery his sister Lisa tries another riddle ‘What is the sound of a tree falling in the woods.’. Once again Bart answers quickly giving a good imitation of what is expected when a tree falls. Lisa then adds the mystery that Bart cannot avoid.
What if no one is there to hear it? The desired response is one that ushers us into the place of mystery and contemplation. The place where muses inspire, where music and poetry comes from. Where places are defined with signs like ‘Here be Dragons!’
Mysteries Veil Torn.
Did Yuri Gagarin brake the final barrier to mystery when he was launched into orbit and proclaimed the absence of God? In the face of the technical prowess of humanity is the veil to mystery torn asunder? When we are given a religious hope what do we do with it? Do we look for the holes and the hypocrisy of those who purport to be its defenders?
Always looking for the man behind the screen. When in fact there is no big conspiracy just a way of thinking and examining the world that denies mystery. That has even those who have some faith cling to legalism and judgement as their hope instead of a grace that ushers in a future of hope and salvation for many.
Our techniques prepare us for processes. We are in the habit of formulating, quantifying, examining and solving. In the light of these techniques certain elements of humanity are confused and obscured. At worst lost. If it is not known or able to be quantified it is ignored and denied access.
If it can be examined it is broken down to its smallest parts and rebuilt using the formulas and base elements that have been discovered. Repurposed to the systematic and technical formats that deny mystery because it cannot read it. If it is able to be valuable and desired such a mystery can be absorbed into the technique and paraded about like a trained dog. Or at the least covered up when it gets in the way. This extends over all of creation, including people who are just a mass of individual carbon units.
Hope the Lesser.
Hope can be fabricated, sold and made to sit and beg. Limited from the larger mystery, from the good that it can be and can inspire in others. The boundary of this hope is small and is diminished from what is was. Does that mean that the hopelessness is less too. Perhaps. But it is also possible that what was once firmly in the boundary of hope is now hopeless. With such a limited hope there is little to hope for and that which was once hope being hopelessness creates problems in the hearts and minds of many.
Balance and equilibrium of human life is now in the realm of the techniques used to keep the economy of the masses from falling over. The hope that was once natural to the societies of the past and still held by some, is being sieved and winnowed out of us. Where the base expectations of survival, economic stability, and entertainment are normal. The expanse of the universe sparkles above us, while we binge Stranger Things season three.
Phillip Hall studies at Yarra Theological College and is trying real hard to get things together for his Minor Essay by the due date. Phill has a desperate hope that this article is close to the core of that essay. Unfortunately, Phill did not watch Stranger Things season 2 and will probably not get to it and season 3 till December.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.