Creating Hope

I don’t know when I started to run on fumes. My last post was September last year (about the delightful Star Wars Visions, which has a second season coming later this year). I’ve had a bunch of blog post ideas since then. I thought I had followed through with at least one, but no.

Life got in the way, as it does, only this time it was a jack-knifed semi-truck blocking all lanes of traffic.

My family life has been rough, and not something I want to discuss publicly. Add to that the growing embrace of theocracy in this country, making me wonder what kind of life I want to have if things go south.

In short, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find hope again.

I recently read Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller, part-memoir and part-biography of 19th-century scientist David Starr Jordan, and one of its themes is how to keep going when everything is falling prey to entropy. Halfway through, Miller learns something about Jordan that upends everything she had thought about him — specifically, his enthusiastic endorsement of eugenics — and she wonders what awful things result from a desire to put order to a chaotic world.

So, what are some alternatives?

There’s faith, I suppose, but that’s long since fled my life. I once had it when I was a committed Unitarian Universalist. Having left the church — both a physical building and the denomination as a whole — it has never stayed, sometimes flitting through like a bird through a yard, grabbing an insect or a worm before disappearing. I can’t say I’m an atheist — I still believe in the God of Einstein and Spinoza — but that God isn’t coming to save us.

So I decided to lie to myself.

A better world is possible. Help yourself and those around you.

As lies go, it’s pretty small. It’s kind of the Bodhisattva Vow in miniature: everyone can be free of suffering, and it’s your responsibility to free everyone else once you’ve freed yourself. But it’s a lie because I have no evidence that a better world is actually possible.

But the first sentence is just a hook to hang the second on: since a better world is possible, it’s your responsibility to help yourself and those around you to make it happen.

I wish I had more than that. I wish I weren’t just running on fumes. I just hope it’s enough to get me home.