One of the most contagious yet cruel linguistic propaganda tools in America, the most commonly used and the most toxic to our mental state, is the use of a concept called “hope.” As a recent example, the FDA approved an anti-Alzheimer’s drug (June 2021), with little proven effect, but prohibitive costs to the patient and to the national healthcare system. Why did the FDA approve such a questionable drug? “To give patients hope,” Bloomberg.com’s Max Nisen said, “(and) science has taken a back seat.” With this decision, let’s hope millions of people fall for what is essentially hopeless.
All “hope” is, by its nature, the mother of all inaction, and exists only for the sole purpose of helping the status quo, the current state of affairs. If everyone lived on hope, things would always stay exactly the same as they always have been. If the Founding Fathers had hoped that King George and the British Parliament would change “one way or another,” this Republic would never have seen the light of day. If all Christians just hoped to go to the Kingdom of God, without any “good work” to facilitate it, no believer would ever enter heaven, that’s for sure. If the slaves of the American South had less hope in prayer and more action in revolt, like the Haitians, their freedom would have come much sooner and more in their favor. Obviously, Providence helps those who help themselves to act.
As a rule, hope is offered to Masses by the idea-tools of power: priests, preachers, writers, journalists, civil servants, teachers, psychologists-psychiatrists, counselors, public relations specialists, motivational speakers, etc. give a concept, an empty word, to remain inactive. The rich and the powerful do not hope; they plan and act on their next moves. The poor hope and pray, while someone somewhere makes the decisions for them.
Hope by definition has no connection with reality. We hope for things that we know we won’t get. If we knew we were going to get it, we wouldn’t need to hope for anything: we would just wait for it, like sunrise tomorrow, or righteousness in a just society. We don’t hope that our dirty job suddenly turns into a wonderful job, or that our spouse suddenly turns into an adorable job, or that our bank account suddenly shows a million dollar deposit: we expect to keep going. our dirty work or an imperfect marriage or an empty bank account for a measurable future. We begin to hope only because we know, deep in our hearts, that our reality is not subject to change by our hope.
There are two types of hope: one granted by God and the other by society. If this is the first type, praying to God is good for purity of the soul which improves the chances of God granting it. It is the one produced by society that we must find alarming and therefore against which we must guard ourselves. In our social reality in America, hope is nothing if it doesn’t have the money (the power) to go with it. It is for this reason that “hope”, perhaps like the new opiate of the masses, is always sold, like lottery tickets, to the poor and the powerless, not to the super-rich or to the social elites. (It’s no surprise that religion and hope are now Siamese twins). If hoping would bring us anything, we would just hope for everything, as Hollywood, Disney, or Wall Street would have us believe. If hope could give us what we want, there would be no misery in this world; we would just hope our misery would go away.
We love to repeat the mantra “I can do it” very much as an antidote to the frustration and obstacles in our reality. (Her more sophisticated word is “empowerment.” For years Oprah’s main theme was “empowering women,” but the only one that was empowered was Oprah herself.). Popular psychology encourages us to live with the hope of accomplishing whatever we dream of because we “can do it” if we are dedicated to it. Obama was elected president on a variation of the hope, “Yes, we can!” Can we say that with Obama’s “hope” America is a better place today? With the hope of Trump? With Biden’s hope? Who or what is it that gives us this void “hope” continually, year after year, election after election, even decade after decade, so that we train our status quo as hope promises so much for so many with nothing? improve our real life? Should we view improving “reality TV” as part of our improved lives and society?
All important decisions in life and in society are made when the situation is deemed hopeless. Deciding to divorce, trying another career, going back to school, pursuing a new philosophy of life, even demanding massive social justice, or other such important decisions in life, require desperate perception. Hope takes that feeling of hopelessness away from us. We hope that something good will happen without our desperate decision and action to make it happen. All drastic actions, big and small, happen when we feel stuck in despair. The best and brightest propagandists, with the help of television and the internet, feed us hope so that we never come to this crossroads of despair and decision.
So, we hope that every gesture we make counts for something – as we protest, pray, recycle, volunteer or contribute to a cause – and, sadly, we continue to remain the unfortunate victims of the Hope Campaign. very smart and attractive from America.
Jon Huer, Recorder columnist and University of Maryland professor emeritus, is the author of “American Paradise”, a book on the absurdities of American society, and a resident of Greenfield.