…maybe…just maybe


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I never thought I would live to see the end of apartheid in South Africa or the release of Nelson Mandela, let alone his election as president. I never thought I would live to see the fall of the Berlin Wall, or the dismantling of the Soviet Union. I never thought I would live to see atrocities like the Tiananmen Square Massacre, or the 2000 Presidential Election. There are so many things I never thought I would live to see—both wonderful and horrific, inspiring and dehumanizing—and yet I have seen them. And when you look at the entirety of human history, you begin to see that most of the key moments—both good and bad—are defined by when that which seemed impossible or unlikely became real. Every second of every day that has passed since life began on this planet is part of the intricate fabric of history, but not all of these moments make history. But there are those moments, where the impossible turns into the probable, and then the probable becomes the inevitable, and then the inevitable becomes history.

Last night, Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus, taking him one step closer to becoming the Democratic nominee for the President of the United States. I like Obama. I support Obama. But I did not really believe that he would win in Iowa. And the reason I did not believe this was not because I am pessimistic person by nature, because I am not. More than anything, I am a cynic—I hope for the best, but expect the worse. I know that’s not a healthy way to live, but I believe it is impossible to go through this life, and see things with any sense of reality and clarity, and not become a bit cynical. But I have always tried to hold on to a shred of hope, tiny as it may be.

Last night in Iowa, I saw a glimmer of hope. The ironic thing is that it didn’t really make me feel that good. It scared me; and the reason it scared me, I now realize, is because I have been without hope for so long. We live in a country where hope has become so foreign to us, that we have become afraid of it, as if it is a bad thing. Ever since 9/11, “God Bless America,” has been a repeated mantra, but the more real, unspoken mantra has been, “There is No Hope Here.” We have been kept in a state of fear and anxiety for nearly eight years now, and it has taken its toll on all of us—liberal and conservative, democrat and republican.

Perhaps the saddest truth of the human condition is that it is nearly impossible to live free of fear, but it is possible to live free of hope. And when hope is gradually stripped away, replaced with more and more fear, what we are left with is a remnant of what we once were—a sad creature that bears a striking resemblance to a human being, but has been robbed of its humanity. Personally speaking, I am tired of living in fear. I am tired of living with no hope. At the same time, I am scared to embrace hope, for fear of disappointment. But that is what the fear mongers want. The fear mongers are the people who profit and benefit from the hopelessness and dread that cripple us. They are the ones so consumed by their own fears—of not making money, or that others may not believe in their God—that they will fight tooth and nail to keep things the way they are. And they use fear as their greatest weapon. But the only thing that can defeat fear is hope. And hope is what we must have if we are to live as human beings.

There is always the chance of disappointment—always the chance that what we hope for will not come to pass. But we must be diligent. We must hold on to our hope as if our lives depended on it, because our lives do depend on hope. And when we can hope and work for a better world where fear is not the guiding principal…maybe…just maybe…

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