Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The importance of hope

The cancer with which I live is a chronic, fatal disease, i.e., there is no known cure.
To my surprise, I recently saw an article in the popular press that a reported a case in which a woman appears to have been completely cured of multiple myeloma. I've not seen similar reports nor have I seen any scientific evidence that supports the possibility of a complete cure. Is the woman's alleged cure a fluke, a case of remission masquerading as a complete cure in a way that her healthcare providers do not provide, or an actual cure? I don't know.
What I do know is that the article added a small amount of light at the end of the dark tunnel (the valley of death?) through which I am currently journeying.
As a long-time supporter of the right to die and of assisted living, I have given considerable thought to what happens when life becomes devoid of hope. That, I'm discovering, is not the same thing as valuing hope for the ways in which it strengthens and enriches.
In the current US presidential contest, Donald Trump has tapped into a group of voters who are angry because they feel abandoned by the system and who often are unable to see hope for a better life. Trump's popularity indicts the American political and economic systems for having become so skewed in favor of the rich and powerful that many of the most vulnerable among us lack hope. Their hopelessness stands in stark contrast to the hope for a better life that migrants generally see, a hope that fuels long journeys at great cost and risk to a state (e.g., the UK or the US) in which the migrant perceives real hope for a better life.
Karl Marx and many others have criticized religion in general and Christianity in particular for emphasizing that hope primarily means looking to life after death. Too many theologians and believers are guilty of emphasizing that understanding of hope. My experience with cancer, Donald Trump's appeal to Americans who lack hope, and hope's power to motivate human migrations all underscore the importance of hope for a better today as well as a better tomorrow.

For what do you hope? How does that hope strengthen or enrich you life?

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