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Keeping Hope Alive

Reading the newspapers about the U.S. lately has left me tired and depressed. When Obama was elected, I remember writing to my young nieces and nephews that we will not betray their futures again by the politics of self-centredness and greed. Lately, I've felt on the verge of a dispair for the US and relief that I have somehow escaped it. But then I remembered the words of Cornel West about hope and his claim, "I cannot be an optimist, but I am a prisoner of hope." In a 1997 interview in The Progressive, West borrows his notion of hope from Vaclav Havel:

Cornel West: You have to draw a distinction between hope and optimism. Vaclav Havel put it well when he said "optimism" is the belief that things are going to turn out as you would like, as opposed to "hope," which is when you are thoroughly convinced something is moral and right and just and therefore you fight regardless of the consequences. In that sense, I'm full of hope but in no way optimistic.

In his 2008 Hope on at Tightrope, he states that “When you’re optimistic, you can stand apart to see how things are going. But when you’re full of hope, you’re in the midst of the muck.” Things are so "shitty" because I am in the midst of the muck. This realization is enough to in the words of Jesse, "Keep Hope Alive." 


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