07 May 2006


How’s everybody’s supply of hope holding up these days? You know -- hope that this country can alter the disastrous trajectory it’s currently flying along, before it’s too late; hope that our Frankenstein’s monster president and his venomous crew of thieves, despoilers, and mass murderers will eventually have real justice served upon them, harshly and mercilessly; hope for a future ... any sort of future, really. Always an especially rare commodity at the best of times, in these later days it seems that “hope” and I have become almost (but not quite) as estranged as, say, a drunk is from self-control or a Republican office-holder is from the truth. In other words, our paths seldom cross, particularly since the advent of the George W. Bush reign of terror. Entangled in the poisonous web of loathing and despair so artlessly spun out of the slavering Neo-Con imagination -- the fundamental animative engine of the so-called “administration” -- and bamboozled and distracted by all the soulless sycophants, shameless schlockmeisters, and supercilious stenographers in corporate media ... hell, I hardly know what the word “hope” is even supposed to mean anymore.

Anyway, there I was, as is usually the case, sitting immobile at one of those ubiquitous east Sacramento intersections -- if you’ve ever spent any amount of time in a place like this, you know exactly what I’m talking about ... a gargantuan expanse of asphalt and concrete, garishly ringed all around by gas stations, religious fanatics with flapping cardboard signs that read HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS!, ugly cookie-cutter corporate-chain restaurants, homeless beggars, and at least one automobile dealership. All the plastic detritus and sad polluted waste-water of American consumerism, strained through the clogged cheesecloth of the fossil-fuel industry. Notwithstanding the inflated price of gasoline, this particular intersection was also gridlocked with obligatory, early rush-hour traffic, esthetically completing the appalling awfulness of the whole scene. While sitting there helplessly, wistfully watching large gobs of figurative dollar signs rise inexorably from the teeming forest of exhaust pipes surrounding me, I was bitterly chewing on some obnoxiously unanswerable questions which were hurled in my face a couple hours prior: after casually mentioning that I’d attended the Impeachment Forum organized by the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party last weekend, a co-worker exclaimed What the fuck’s the point? They’d just replace Bush with somebody worse. Besides, he’ll never be forcibly removed from office, so why waste your time with this impeachment nonsense? Just as my frantic monkey-brain was preparing to offer up a well-honed, after-the-fact rhetorical demolition of such ridiculous, hopeless, pathologically discouraging and blindly stupid commentary, a shiny and insanely enormous Escalade rolled up next to me, subwoofers set to maximum annoyance volume, license plates and side-view mirrors vibrating like the outer extremities of a coke fiend checking into rehab -- whereby my always tenuous acquaintance with the more positive and optimistic aspects of human experience quickly dissipated in a sick cloud of noisy, stinking absurdity. My thought-train jumped its tracks, and I barely made it home without throwing up on myself.

So here we come to the rub, the crux, the essential point, or whatever the hell you want to call it -- that is, insofar as I have a point, which is not altogether certain. Anyhow, the question is: what’s the secret to maintaining a sense of hope? You fully expect wingnuts and freepers, know-nothing ditto-heads and fools in SUV’s to go out of their way to pollute your punch-bowl of optimism. That’s just what they do, what with their strange allegiance to -- and identification with -- the symbology of power and domination, aggravated by (or perhaps stemming from) an inexplicably violent opposition to diversity of opinion and the inalienable right of people to think for themselves. Except for those in positions of dubious “authority,” to whom we really have no choice but to pay some attention, it’s generally best to deal with sub-humans of this ilk by ignoring them as much as possible. No, the real destroyers of hope are not the mental weaklings on the right; rather, they’re the great mass of the uninformed and uninterested in the middle, the complacently depoliticized majority, the self-righteously aloof who’ve so deeply integrated the practice of detached cynicism into their day-to-day lives, they can’t even see how cynical they are. Indeed, they actively deny that they’re cynical at all, such as the aforementioned co-worker who, despite having absolutely no love lost for the Bush Crime Family and its evil policies, derides me for being stupid enough to participate in a forum dedicated to the removal of Bush and his army of thugs. The what’s the point? attitude of an otherwise reasonably intelligent and compassionate person -- the casual dismissiveness of it all -- does more to puncture my already flaccid balloon of hopeful optimism than anything some empty-headed right-wing freak could do or say. So, confused and flabbergasted as I am, I’ll ask the question again: How do you remain positive and full of hope, under such circumstances?

Ah well, perhaps the true source of hope lies where my humble and comprehensively disinformed opinion has always relegated it -- in the sudsy dregs at the bottom of every beer glass. Maybe so, but if any of you out there have any other thoughts or suggestions concerning this matter, I’m all ears.

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