Hope rhymes with “dope”

Yes, I actually wrote a diary called “Fuck Obama”.  I did it for a reason.

But here are reasons I didn’t do it.

I didn’t do it because I get off on hating people.  I didn’t do it because I want other people to hate Obama.  Hating is not the point.  Not at all.  

I did it because the only way change will come in this country is if people quit “hoping”.

Obama has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that our two-party system, Coke vs Pepsi, Bud vs Miller Lite, Dems vs Repubs, is nothing but two sides of the same mirror-glassed expensive and impenetrable building.  Inside the building it’s all the same people, operating from the same pile of money.  

What did Obama offer us?  Nothing, really.  But “Hope”.  Hope is dangerous.  Why?  

I found an article a while back that blew my mind.  It’s called Beyond Hope and it’s written by a guy named Derrick Jensen.  

Here is a sample:


The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is.

More or less all of us yammer on more or less endlessly about hope. You wouldn’t believe-or maybe you would-how many magazine editors have asked me to write about the apocalypse, then enjoined me to leave readers with a sense of hope. But what, precisely, is hope? At a talk I gave last spring, someone asked me to define it. I turned the question back on the audience, and here’s the definition we all came up with: hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.

So what did Obama give us?  Powerlessness.  That’s right.  For us to accept his “hope” means we give up all our power.

And how many of us did exactly that once he was elected?  Almost everybody.

What’s what my anger is about.  That’s why I write this stuff.  

You really have to read the whole article.  It’s brilliant.  I’d quote it all here if I could.

Here’s another sample:


When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we’re in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free-truly free-to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.

Want to stay powerless?  Keep hoping.

Want to accomplish something?  Want change?   Then kill your hope.  Quit hoping Obama will change anything.  Quit hoping that the Democratic Party will finally grow a spine.  Quit hoping the media will suddenly start reporting the truth.  

Get to work.  And simply DO.

32 comments

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    • Inky99 on June 7, 2009 at 9:51 am
      Author

    It feels stupid to leave a tip jar, but it feels just odd to not have one.  

    WTF?  Why should we even have them here?  It’s a DK thing.  

    • Viet71 on June 7, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    we slaves need a Spartacus.

  1. In my mind this sort of makes the whole Hope campaign stuff really evil instead of just maudlin.

    Thanks for pointing out that article.

  2. but I hear you.

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference”

    Step One: Admitted we were powerless over Hope.

    Okay, sorry Im being a little snarky. 😛

    But, its… many of us, we’ve been saying this for a while now… its not ABOUT Obama, its not about BHO worship OR BHO Hate. He’s just the POTUS, thats all, nothing more, nothing less. Im glad he got elected. I DO hope he is able to achieve some of the goals, within the frame of gov’t of what we have NOW. Yes, I do. And, like for Health Care Reform, we DO have to play by the same ol’ rules and push for that in the traditional kinds of ways.  And maybe we’ll get that.

    So we play that game and still continue to think and discuss and debate maybe and work for the sea change tidal wave of a paradigm shift that is so much deeper and resistant and harder to effect.

    Pixel by pixel. Comment by comment. Essay by essay. Blog by blog.

    Power up.

  3. Hope was personified in Greek mythology as Elpis. When Pandora opened Pandora’s Box, she let out all the evils except one: hope. Apparently, the Greeks considered hope to be as dangerous as all the world’s evils. But without hope to accompany all their troubles, humanity was filled with despair. It was a great relief when Pandora revisited her box and let out hope as well.

    via Wikipedia

    So, for some (and, in fact, from a civilization that in some ways we’re still trying to catch up to) Hope was an evil.  I would argue that hope makes it easier to procratinate (not for all, perhaps, but for some).  It’s quite possible that those who are ensnared by hope will wait while the chance for change actually passes them by.

  4. for that link to Jensen’s article. It rocked my world!!! He’s been one of my favorite writers for awhile now – and that piece just confirmed why. I “hope” everyone takes the time to read the whole thing!

  5. of why I should bother with those sold-out politicians, or just run to ground, pull the plug on my connection to the grid (incl. the Net), and live the rest of my life in the deepest possible anonymity.

  6. Its an excellent article. And its to some extent, about the surrender. Its the Big Message that has come multiple times from various sources and vehicles and been 99.99% missed or screwed up or worse. {sigh}. Im back to my mundane chores.

  7. while governments drool.

    See the show for what is really is, a show and devote all of you talents toward avoidance of it and minimizing it’s impact on your personal life.  True very tough to do these days.

  8. better than hope will get you through times of no peace.

    • kj on June 8, 2009 at 3:13 am

    for the link to Derrick Jensen’s article in “Orion,” Inky.  This paragraph resonated:

    PEOPLE SOMETIMES ASK ME, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just kill yourself?” The answer is that life is really, really good. I am a complex enough being that I can hold in my heart the understanding that we are really, really fucked, and at the same time that life is really, really good. I am full of rage, sorrow, joy, love, hate, despair, happiness, satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and a thousand other feelings. We are really fucked. Life is still really good.

  9. I never thought of hope that way, even though the concept has always sort of bothered me. Now I know why.

  10. always bothered me, on a deep level. The Audacity of Hope is absurd when you think about it as their is nothing audacious about hope they are opposites.

    audicaity n.

    1. confident, intrepid, brave, adventurous 2. presumptuous, shameless, bold, defiant.

    hope n.

    1 expectation and desire combined for a thing. 2. trust, wish: ambition, craving, longing, want,….

    I like the Tibetan definitions better.

    ‘The word in Tibetan for hope is rewa: the word for fear is dakpa. More commonly the word re-dok is used, which combines the two. Hope and fear is a feeling with two sides As long as their is one, there’s always the other. This re-dok is is the root of our pain…. Abandoning hope is an affirmation, the beginning of the beginning.’   Pema Chodron – When Things Fall Apart.

    Excellent essay that gets to the root of the bamboozle. The problem on a practical level is how do you get people to let go of wanting, craving, a solution that is top down, a security that is a illusion, a look at the reality and abandon hope that something outside themselves will save them. What your really asking them to do is let go of the fear of insecurity. If we make our journey to get security we are missing the point. It is not the nature of the beast. How can we counteract this if were outside the society?  

    Everything sold in our society is sold on fear, health, security, hope, aging,  all is sold on the negativity of the real world we live in. Obama is just the figurehead that put a smile on our fear. The salesman who turned our outrage into hope. So I agree, I remain torn as always between wanting the thing to crumble, or see my unrealistic ‘hope’ become reality, that people will stop wishing and trusting, and become brave and adventurous. As long as they pump the fear and hope most will feel that hope is the only ground they can stand on. They are not comfortable with insecurity and prefer the illusion of hope.        

    • pico on June 8, 2009 at 8:47 pm

    is passive hope what Obama was ever selling?

    I’ve been pretty critical of him both before and after the election, but I’m also pretty sure that his speeches have always asked for an informed and active electorate to be pushing for their causes rather than sitting back and expecting him to do it all for them.

    Do people ignore that and expect him to do everything?  Sure, but I’m not sure Obama can be faulted for people being poor listeners.  Civic engagement has been part of his platform since he started running.

    Reread his state of the union address.  He links hope specifically to personal responsibility, and asks us to get actively involved in educating ourselves, in service in our communities, and in debating him on issues that are important to us.  This idea that he’s been just peddling passive “hope” is a giant straw man.

    • Arctor on June 9, 2009 at 3:44 am

    constitutional democracy. He is the establishment’s realization that they have reached the point where we must be made totally demoralized and powerless.  They outdid themselves with this one, and they are now busy rubbing our noses in the paper with him daily and still so many do not get it! So many are still saying he’s got a grand strategy where he will force the country to force him to do the things he wants to do, e.g. prosecute torture, reform healthcare, end don’t ask, don’t tell, etc etc and bullshit!

    He is the handpicked henchman of the oligarchy, if there were no Obama they would have had to create him out of whole cloth. This twisted plan shrieks at us like a cheap horror film and still we don’t see the monster grinning behind us: in the age of Dubya Bush when things looked darkest for the oligarchy they reached out and found their man. An utter nobody, Illinois state legislator; conveniently through prosecution a spot was opened in Illinois for a new US Senator and voila, 2004 and John  Kerry just happens to have Obama make the keynote address at the Democratic convention. Next thing you know this freshly minted Senator is running for President at a time when the left is ripe for victory, the country fed up with Republican misrule and conservative claptrap, the economy imploding in the face of Wall Street’s utter fiasco and here’s our man with the banner of Hope unfurled. How can we go wrong, a mixed-race activist, the first black candidate, he says all the right things to warm our liberal hearts, we cry tears of joy on January 20th on the Mall.

    Well actually we didn’t even get past election day! He supports wiretapping in the FISA bill, fills his cabinet with the usual suspects and it’s been utterly downhill since then. Never underestimate the devious ability of the power structure, when it comes to marketing no one outdoes America, world’s greatest Banana Republic! Ike warned of the military-industrial complex? he should have warned against Madison Avenue for that’s where the oligarchy’s power base is, not Washington, not Wall Street, but on the set of our real life Truman Show! and I know we’ve given up bashing DKOS (and rightfully so) but over there this comment would draw so many flames it would utterly disintegrate in the anger of those WHO STILL HOPE!

    • Edger on June 9, 2009 at 4:13 am

    haven’t got a hope in hell, and hopeless people are the last best hope of the world?

    Am I close to what Jensen said? 😉

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