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  WITNESS

Hankering for Hope



by Arnold De Villa
March 16, 2012
Almost four years ago, the promise of hope took a new shape. It was the essential political platform of a candidate who offered change as the backbone of a future office. Back then, Senator Obama was the catalyst of almost everything that has never been and not yet done. Four years into his presidency, after inheriting wars he did not declare, after being voted into office by millions of unemployed, and after a huge government deficit with a colossal debt, it seems that the promise of change and the challenge to hope is at last taking shape.
According to the “Bureau of Labor and Statistics”, employment in professional and business services has grown by 1.4 million since a recent low point in September 2009. Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 227,000 in February while private-sector employment grew by 233,000 jobs. “Huffington Post” reports that the US GDP increased by 3.2 % in the first quarter while consumer spending showed the biggest rise in 3 years. As such, it is timely and appropriate to publish the latest polls according to “Reuters”about President Obama’s 50% job approval rating, a reflection that more Americans have subscribed to his politics of hope.
It seems that the overall emotional state of the nation now is inclined towards the phase of good feeling, an aftermath that contains hopeful premises. It is as if all the bugs in Pandora’s Box have dissipated into extinction and the crumbs of hope have blossomed.There are lesser home foreclosures; car manufacturing companies on the verge of bankruptcy have now declared profits; and Companies have started hiring.
But somewhere along the cracks, somewhere along the solitude of loneliness are shadows of patient souls – waiting, pondering and hankering for that bright light of hope to arrive. They wait without whining, and wait with a tearful smile. They are those whose days are counted, those whose loved ones left, those who roam around the asphalt maze because of past mistakes, or those who are victims of cruel circumstances. We sometimes see them with their back packs in libraries. There are those who are confined in specialized facilities. Some are in hospice. Others live alone. Some are incarcerated. And there are those who couldn’t wait to say goodbye to earth because they have lived almost a hundred years.
It is for them that I try to figure out the mangled face of hope. For every word we read, every sigh of silence, every second that passes, there is a breath that disappears completely from our side. Either a physiological disorder or a self-inflicted injury claims for their weary soul.
So what is hope? What do we really mean when we say that we are losing hope? Why is it that people with a hopeful attitude seem to be more resilient about life? Why do they survive and sometimes even thrive, just because they kept up with hope?
We have a rambunctious dog, a black and white crossover between a Pomeranian and a Maltese. Despite its tiny size, Yin Yang has replaced our buzzer as the primary alarm that warns us of a visitor. He seems to be entrapped in a chronic good mood. Just like the other members of his canine tribe, he wags his tail whenever we arrive. As a lap dog, he knows what to do so that we would cuddle him and carry him around like a doll. For all these, he is a bundle of laughter and some sense of joy. I really cannot tell if he has hope or not. In fact, I am very certain that I have never met any fur coated, four-legged, canine animal that hopes or who dies in despair (an absence of hope). For this reason, I believe that hope is exclusive to human beings in as much as humans are the only ones gifted with hope. Why?
When President Barack Obama used hope as the mainframe of his political promises, he went directly to the core of human yearning and touched the vortex of a basic need. We all need to be reminded of something positive, something that allows us to maintain the levels of our humanity, and something that can insulate us against the grinds of insanity. And it seems that hope has always been the universal panacea, the only drug without adverse reactions, and the single elixir for survival.
“Do not lose hope”, we hear the cliché. It means not giving up whatever morsel of reason we have that keeps us living. Hope is the positive expectation for a change that used to be. It is the attitude that allows us to see beyond the painful realms of whatever dismal plight we are in. It is the only answer we have left when everything else has gone or is done. And it is only us, human beings, with reasons and feelings, who can have hope.
When we expect for a change, it is not because we have never had it. It is because we want it back. Do you remember the good old days when life was care free and worries were not known? We want those days back. Do you recall those times when we were young and healthy though not so wise? Isn’t it tempting to trade wisdom for an extended guarantee of good health? Would it not be nice to be delivered from swollen knuckles, aching ligaments, hardened tendons, or hypertension? And what about the cupful of pills we swallow every day? There was a time when we only swallowed candy and the home cooked meals our mothers made. There was also a time when we ran faster than a gazelle without suffering from hypoxia. And those days cannot be brought back. So then what? What is the positive expectation for a change that used to be?
In as much as there are reversible changes, there also are irreversible changes. The hope that lies on the expectation for changes that used to be are those values we adhered to that kept us grounded for who we are. We can never recover the perfect health we had in youth in as much as many of us can no longer run as fast as a gazelle. And the only way we can get those changes back is through the memories we cherish, the recollection of the past. And it is not because we want to chain ourselves to the moment that has long gone, but we would like to move with portions of a past that we should never give up. Our memories are not perennial. The day will come when even those things will fade. And when they do, will it mean doom? That is a question that begs another question.
Abraham Lincoln once dreamt of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth. We are in America. In spite of the scarcity of available expressions to depict the accuracy of hope’s definition, I somewhat believe that we all know what it already is. As Plato suggested, I could agree that hope has co-existed with our existence from day one. Enjoy your summer. I am skipping Spring. Back during the doldrums of a blizzard that happened almost two years ago, we all hoped for a nice weather. And we waited. Here it is.



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