There comes a point when things catch up with you.
I’ve always been a natural pessimist, and I don’t like that. Some people see hope and fearlessly ask it to dance; I hold onto its hand for dear life as it pulls me away from the edge of a cliff. I don’t want to be a cynic, but often it’s easy and more often than that it gets a laugh.
You could be fooled into thinking that pessimism is a pretty sensible default position. Look at that big scary world out there – yes, that one behind the window, where politicians and financiers and media moguls and hell, even Facebook, see our lives, our relationships, our histories and our callings as commodities, as products, as resources to be bought and sold.
The tragedy of it all is that they don’t understand what they’re doing – it’s just business as usual and the other 99% of us are being unrealistic and obstructive about it all. “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do”, yes, but let’s put that in context, the man who said it was still talking about crucifiers.
There are two ways to respond to all this. One is with despair and cynicism, neither of which actually achieves anything, but hey, it might give birth to a nice line in irony. And sneering “irony” is exactly what the world needs more of, yeah?
The other is hope. And I believe in hope, I really do, I just forget to drop it a text sometimes; let’s face it, my life is pretty good at the moment – I’m gainfully employed, I have a house and savings, and people love and care about me. I’m getting married next year, and that carries with it the promise of a long and happy life surrounded by a lovely family. Things are good, for goodness sake. The powers-that-be work against that, probably by mistake as much as malice, but that’s only because we listen to their petty and fear-driven narratives rather than our own hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Now, no-one’s ever going to call me a positive thinking hippie fruitloop – life can be pretty unpleasant sometimes. But we have to be able to face those challenges at full strength. In all those films about apocalyptic viral outbreaks, it’s the medical staff that get the vaccines first; that’s not mercenary, that’s just an acknowledgement that you can’t look after others if you go under yourself.
And so I need to pray, and relax, and focus on the good, on writing a better narrative than those with which we’re spoonfed. We’re not powerless, not condemned, not alone, and we can build better, stronger relationships and institutions and futures than we ‘ve ever dared believe. We can face this dark world; we can face this dark world and we can win.