I’m with the Greeks – hope is an evil bitch

While I may not be at my most balanced or rational today – I cannot help wonder why, in general, hope is held in such high regard in today’s society. Held up as a virtue and there to provide comfort and succour with regard to matters that are outside of your control.

Hope is termed a theological virtue because its immediate object is God, as is true of the other two essentially infused virtues, faith and charity.
Catholic encyclopaedia

It’s also religious thing as part of the sustenance of belief:

“…the hope of salvation”
Bible (whichever version you like) – 1 Thessalonians 5:8

but it must be more than that to survive into the increasingly secular society.

It’s used regularly as a plot device, for example in The Sandman when the Dreamlord fights a duel to regain his helmet he wins the metaphysical fight with a softly delivered, but triumphant move at the climax:

Chronozon: I am anti-life, the beast of judgment. I am the dark at the end of everything. The end of universes, goods, worlds…
…of everything.
Ssss. And what will you be then, Dreamlord?

Dreamlord: I am hope

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes

And just about any other novel you care to read, or TV/film drama, really – the protagonist is on their last legs – about to lose hope – when something turns and you’re into the home straight.

Hope certainly is a powerful emotional hook/pathos to tug on the old empathy – we’ve all experienced it. It’s ingrained from early childhood of hoping for Father Christmas and what he’ll bring.

Is that healthy though? Is it really the saviour/resolution it’s set out as?

Hope can be a catalyst for so much else too. It can turn the satisfaction of basic needs into avarice/desire by just hoping for a little more. It can lead to procrastination, where one hopes that something will not need doing or something else will turn up instead. It can lead to an unsettling constant change as the hope of better things/greener grass over there takes hold.

It strikes me that it’s very closely aligned to luck – it’s elusive and unreliable. If you cling to or expect good things then you’re setting yourself up to be dashed against the rocks of fate in the storm of eternity.

So we humans are great at exploiting hope, or being exploited by it, but from where does hope spring?

According to mythology Pandora‘s box (or jug, apparently, if we’re being authentic), which when first opened released all the evils on mankind except hope. So, does this mean that Hope is the mitigating force? This seems to be the prevailing interpretation today, but I would argue alongside the author Hesiod that it’s another evil, “no good for mankind, as Hesiod writes that hope is empty (498) and no good (500) and makes mankind lazy by taking away his industriousness, making him prone to evil”  [from wikipedia]

Hope grabs hold of you as you cling to it. Hope insinuates itself further and draws/lulls you in. You willingly feed it with any event that supports it and therefore grows and makes you feel secure. However, as Hesiod wrote it’s empty – only a false sense of security. Ultimately, there are other unknowns and forces at work that don’t play by those rules and therefore the shock and cold turkey withdrawal when you’re faced with cold hard reality are all the worse.

My name is Seb; I was a victim of Hope last week.

Hope is an evil bitch.


About this entry