Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Danger of Hope

Is there anything in life more useless than a hollow promise? Words spoken solely because they are what the listener wants to hear? Words and promises spoken at such times may raise spirits or rally a group to one's cause but the effects are fleetingly temporary at best. The time will come when a reckoning will be due, the promise will go unfulfilled and the hopes of the followers will be dashed to pieces. What then? What will become of the unfortunates who hoped in something unproven, untested, and their hopes fell short of reality? I dare not contemplate the sad state of those when that day comes.
How do we avoid this terrible day? What can we do to protect ourselves from the disappointment of unkept promises? Take control. Take control of our lives and responsibility for our actions. The rising generations have to recognize the benefits of responsibility. Too long have we acted without thought or care of what our actions will result in.
We live in a time of instant satisfaction and have not learned the simple truth that when something is earned by sweat and toil it is far more dear and precious to us than that which is easily gotten. I am just as guilty of this as most, but there comes a time when we must take control of ourselves. The words of the poet William Ernest Henley, despite being put in a bad connotation recently due to them being the last words of the worst domestic terrorist in our history, Timothy McVeigh, remain true enough:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloodied, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.

We cannot allow ourselves to be caught up in the moment. To allow misplaced hope lead us merrily down to despair. Please allow me one more quote, this one from a March 23, 1775 address delivered by Patrick Henry to the Virginia Convention:
" is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of the siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and provide for it...
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

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