Zack Vayda and National Hopelessness
Gun rights. The government. Net neutrality. North Korea. LGBTQ rights. The Trump presidency. Social media. Vladimir Putin. Missile strikes. The glass ceiling. Racism, sexism, ageism, ableism, deceit, assault, rape, violence, murder.
Feel hopeless yet? I sure do.
It takes me approximately 3 minutes into the news headlines before I begin to feel a huge weight on my shoulders. This is a weight that every American carries, regardless of political affiliation, race or gender. This is a weight I wouldn't have guessed citizens of "the Land of the Free" would have to carry, and yet here we all are.
From our perspective, the perspective of the "average" American, things seem pretty hopeless.
Except for one thing: Hopelessness is a privilege.
I listened to a podcast today (Advocacy, from The Liturgists Podcast) that said "hopelessness is a privilege." I didn't understand at first. "How is it a privilege to feel such lack of morale? Certainly no one would choose hopelessness for themselves." Except, as Americans, we did exactly that. We didn't know we did at the time, of course, but we put our trust in the wrong places.
We put our hope in social media, and social media fed us propaganda.
We put our hope in our political party, and our political party used our hope for their own gain.
We put our hope in the government, and the government lied to us.
We put our hope in the police and in white people and in men and in organized religions and in the older generation and in the younger generation, and each and every one has failed us.
Other countries don't have the luxury of putting their faith and trust into these groups. Some countries are too poor to afford access to social media, some countries didn't have reliable governments and police forces to begin with, some countries have been hurt and victimized by organized religions, and some countries have been torn apart by sexism and racism for decades. Other countries didn't have the privilege of putting their trust in the wrong things, and somehow, people from other countries keep pushing forward. They keep working, they keep fighting and they keep their hope alive.
So maybe there's something we can learn from other, less privileged countries. What do other places put their hope in? What should we put our hope in?
The answer lies in the process of elimination. What's left of life when you take away that very long list at the top of the page? We are left with Community and Passion.
Each of us are part of many circles filled with meaningful relationships. We have connections through family, through our beliefs, through our interests, through work, through school and through so many other significant circles in our lives. These circles make up our community. Regardless of what's happening in the world, we know we can always rely on our community to support us, to care for us and to love us. Our community is worth hope.
I love music. I love listening to it, I love playing it, I love watching it be performed, I love writing it and I love the way it brings me closer to other people. Music is a passion of mine and it gives me life, the same way that your passion gives you life, whether it's music, sports, cooking, woodworking or underwater base jumping. Our passion is a constant in our life, and because it can't be altered or taken from us, our passion is worth hope.
We live in trying times. There's no denying that it can be painful, but if we know where we can safely put our hope, maybe that pain will be less severe. If we put our hope in the right things, we'll be reminded that while hopelessness may be an American privilege, hope is a human right.