“Joining with ‘others’ in ‘our one world’, united in native sympathy through the similarities of mind that we share as a species, we could conduct skillful communication that makes a difference for others on the individual level, as well as on the social, educational, political, economic and other levels.” Revelations of Mind, Page 396.
Catching some of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Michelle Obama last night, I felt both heartened and saddened. It felt like watching a friend waving out the back window of a Grey Hound Bus and realizing, only then, how much they have been looking out for you.
When asked what she wishes for the country now, the First Lady said, “Hope”.
Given a choice between ‘hope’ and ‘appreciation’, ‘hope’ comes in a distant second. Hope feels like reading a brochure about some foreign land when the planes that might have taken you there are grounded on the runway.
A friend of mine who helps others through emotional and psychological difficulties has found that the spectrum of their issues has shrunk. In recent weeks, the patients calling are almost entirely those for whom terrors and abuses experienced in the past are seen returning to the present time.
What is there to say that hasn’t—in hopeless anger or impotent analysis– already been said? And where can we find a vehicle for communication able to rise above the ‘fake news stories’ that for many have replaced the informed expression of factual knowledge? In the most recent Atlantic Monthly, an article by James Fallows identifies fake news stories on Facebook as the single factor that most severely damaged many people’s understanding of the actual state of the country (plunging deficits and soaring employment), more than e-mail hacking or societal dissatisfaction. This lack of respect for genuine knowledge has struck a deep wound into the heart of our world. Et Tu, Mark Z.? The knowledge that as human beings we are heir to a more reliable understanding than fear and prejudice can ever provide, has been bartered for easy money.
I have trouble appreciating the role of ‘hope’ in our society. If I hope for anything it is that people I care about will be happy and fortunate. But since I feel unable to do much to influence their fate, I try to understand the nature of the time we are living in and to slow down the erratic oscillations of my own mind enough that light can shine through. By being open to deeper truth, I hope to live with some honesty and integrity.
Nothing energizes and fulfills as much as being involved with others in worthwhile endeavors. In shared engagement rests the hope of the world.
I remember the light in Michelle Obama’s face as she spoke of what is important for her. It was clear that she spoke with the knowledge that she herself has done all she could during the past eight years. Her hope for the country has been deeply earned. That people continue to live caringly at the core of a broken system brings a rare beacon of light into a field of darkness.
It certainly illuminates a path worth following.