Sometimes we get stuck on whats “wrong” and forget whats going “right” and where we have made real progress.
It can be worth taking a mental note of whats good, what we have learned, where we have made progress or asserted a new boundary.
Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.
There seems to be two hopes. One type of hope is a force for good and the other a force for great evil.
Put simply: when hope motivates action in the interest of the person taking action it seems to be a force for good, when hope demotivates action it seems to be a force for evil.
So when is hope a good thing? Possibly never. If we are going to speak strictly of hope in the purest sense it originally meant “faith in a desirable outcome” and had a religious overtone to it.
The word was Hopa, it came from the North Sea Germanic Languages, in Frissian there is a word Hopia, and we can see in modern Swedish the word Hoppas.
I encourage hope in my clients and people who follow my content. I encourage hopefulness when people are frequently in a state of learned helplessness or despair. Typically my stance would be “Okay, you think things can’t get better, but they actually can and we do need to create some space for proactive optimism, rather than a passive hopefulness,” and this could be said euphemistically to be a good hope.
Maybe we should stop saying the word “hope” if it has a dreamy passivity built into it.
After all, in reality there is no guarantee that things will get better. There is no universal law that says all things drift inexorably towards good outcomes. No, this isn’t a Hollywood script and actually things can and often do get catastrophically worse.
If we are drifting in our kayak towards the waterfall, I would not advocate “hope” as a policy for generating a positive outcome but rather instead I would recommend paddling like hell to get away from the danger.
Catastrophes and tragedies occur daily to all humans regardless of ethnicity, class, culture or education. Is it wise to think some invisible guiding hand will protect us from the edge?
I think it is not.
I would propose we need to be active, cynical, skeptical and brutally rational when looking at the course of our lives. Many people drift into the weeds, still more drift right over the edge.
Perhaps we should abandon hope altogether in favour of proactive, pragmatic optimism.
Pragmatic optimism puts the locus of control (the power centre of control) back into the individual.
Blind hope puts the locus of control outside the individual and potentially into the hands of anyone who would be of a mind to take it.
In hope there is a potentially malignant passivity implied. In this darker version hope, we don’t have agency, our locus of control is external. We are just passively wishing that things will get better without us doing anything, without us changing anything, or taking any kind of control in our lives. As I present it here, so far, you might think, “Well, that doesn’t sound too bad. It sounds like Nietzsche really was overstating the case when he said that hope is the worst of all things.”
So let me put it this way.
Hope can become a doorway, an opening, a breach in the armor through which bad actors and their plethora of platidunal poisons can quietly and silently pass through.
A door way called Hope into which all manner of corruption may pass.
Passive wishful thinking is an infantile response in the face of stressful or overwhelming situations. Because it comes from passivity, because it comes from an infantile childlike place, it is irrational. When we are infantile, and when we are being irrational, and not looking properly, and reasonably with an adult head on our shoulders at the data, we become very impressionable and easy to manipulate.
In this state we like an open wound to charlatans and tricksters and con-artists. To the politicians, marketers, salesmen and hucksters who tell us, “Don’t think for yourself, don’t act for yourself, just wait. Trust in me or trust in this external object, and all will be well. Just keep hoping, just keep waiting, all will be well.”
And isn’t that what we secretly want?
Isnt this our own weakness?
These hucksters grant us permission to do what we want to do in our secret hears: to forego the responsibility of agency in our own lives.
Waiting, hoping, blaming and complaining is easy.
Processing information, thinking with discipline and taking consistent action towards an end goal is hard.
In the first scenario you literally can not fail, because you are not being courageous enough to attempt anything.
In the second scenario you will fail. Again and again. Failure paves the road to the development of strengths, skills and outcomes. It is the far, far harder choice.
Because of the opening that this exploitation of human weakness affords, I will agree with Nietzsche. Hope really is the worst of all things, and in many ways, giving up hope could become the best of all things. Because giving up hope in a scenario where you are clinging to an externalized locus of control, to a savior or some external ideology that is going to save you, you will continue to suffer just as you are.
Living in passive hope means the day you lived yesterday will be the day you live tomorrow. Over and over again, until you die.
This will be as good as it gets. Forever.
Let that sink in.
If you want change my friend, YOU are the one who has to make it happen.
The theme is now recurrent, where we offer up our agency and sovereignty to others, evil and suffering is always the end result.
Where we choose to be rational, to be courageous, and to reclaim our agency, and to concern ourselves with our sovereignty, and with looking, which takes great bravery, at the data just as it is, and facing reality, just as it is, then positive, healthy outcomes could be the result.
To that extent, you shouldn’t really be drawing hope from me. You shouldn’t be drawing hope from anything you can read, anything you can hear, or anything you can consume. Give up hope. Be optimistic, but be proactive. Take action. Take it over and over again. Set your intent, take action with consistency and never give up.
Change is hard. Taking action is hard. I’m not offering you an easy solution here as there simply isn’t one. Most people fail this test. If you don’t want to be a statistic you will need to cultivate a strong will and extremely clear intent.
But first give up hope that the solution will be poured into you as though you are an empty vessel. Sometimes it is good to be Yin, it is good to empty the cup. Sometimes it is good to be Yang, and to get out there into the light and make things work in the world.
The problem with being in a perpetual Yin state, which is what malignant hope and consumer capitalism offers, is that into a perpetually empty cup any old shit can be poured.
We start over time to accept any and all ideological solutions. They can and will become more and more preposterous but who stops them? Nobody, there is nobody present there to say “no”, just a passive grouping of empty cups clanging against each other making hollow reactive noises and fretting.
If you want your life to improve, give up on passive hope, and other people, other institutions, other external objects. Give it up. Let go of ideology. Let go of some promised utopia just over the next hill. And accept with courage that this is where you are, this is your life. It’s your body. It’s your brain. It’s your time. It’s your responsibility.
And with that weighty burden of responsibility comes precisely the equivalent amount of power to change things in your own life.
Responsibility does not exist without burden, but there are no rights without responsibility. And there is no agency without responsibility.
So, we need here to claim the responsibility and the power for being proactive, for being somewhat optimistic by focussing our intent on the best outcomes, for being rational, level-headed, emotionally regulated, and for looking at reality just as it is.
To succeed in the task of making sense of the world. And to succeed in the task of having an effect in it.
So lets abandon hope and embrace responsibility, agency and sovereignty.
Nobody is coming to save us.