Re: What Good Is Hope? — Hope Is Oppression

Re: What Good Is Hope? — Hope Is Oppression

In his article, What Good Is Hope, Drake Baer presents "three modes of inquiry — neuroscience, history, and psychology" to, as he puts it, allow us "to see what good hope and optimism might do you. And the country."

Werner Herzog: What is wrong with letting people be happy? Can too much hope possibly be a bad thing?

Huey Freeman: Hope... is irrational.

Hope is a "a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen." Can too much of a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen be a bad thing? Absolutely.

We're frequently told to have little to no expectations in life. Expectations end up one of two ways: on a positive note, an expectation can provide the desired result and there it ends; on a negative note, expectations can lead to resentment, regret, frustration, guilt, feelings of loneliness, disappointment — on and on we go.

The enlightenment mind lives by flowing with life as it occurs but also takes part in creating and shaping life to provide the best results. This in turn puts you in a mental state that accepts the negativity in life without harboring on the how and why things didn't go as expected. There is little focus on hope and more focus on being a "mover."

"Neuroscience: We’re born optimistic."

Apparently due to an "optimism bias" we are innately programmed to look on the brighter side of things or as Tali Sharot (principal investigator at University College London’s Affective Brain Lab) puts it, "[expect] things to be better than they are."

Baer writes, "The optimism bias makes evolutionary sense, [Sharot] says, since it reduces anxiety and gets people exploring their worlds and living healthier lives. Your ancestors were your ancestors because at least in part they were optimistic (while also a bit anxious)." My first thought went to my mother and her optimism in leaving Haiti to travel through various countries before making it the place she always dreamed of — America. But then I immediately thought of my enslaved ancestors and the optimism bias seems like it only fits for certain groups of people (whites, who have the luxury of options and acceptance wherever they go) which in turn implies limited evolutionary sense for other groups of people. That doesn't seem right.

My mother told me the story of what led her to America. As a little girl she sat with a group of friends and they all discussed their dreams. When it was my mother's turn she said, in Creole, "I'd love to move to America one day and have a nice house, nice car, and big family." Everyone laughed at her. Although the dream was always in the back of her mind, she didn't hope to make it here, she planned and acted and made all of those dreams come true. 

Hope is inaction. Although by speaking your dreams out loud you put the required energy into the Universe by declaring what you'd like, the word hope implies that you won't take the necessary steps to get the results you want. What can an expectation really get you?

Although optimism requires hope, hope does not always denote optimism. Therefore, being innately optimistic does not denote you are automatically hopeful in a beneficial way. Hope can fall into the negative frame just as easily as it can be applied to being optimistic. Fear is a form of negative hope.  

"History: You need to see how hope has worked."

“In those five decades antislavery went from being radical to being the status quo,” says Rebecca Solnit, chief American historian of hope. Legislation can make slavery illegal but it does nothing to change the perspective of people who support and fought to keep slavery ongoing. One man can say slavery is wrong, but the millions of people who hate the race that was enslaved will still gnash their teeth as free labor walks off the field.

"If one is to be hopeful, then one needs to have a sense of the victories of progress that have indeed come to pass," says Baer, using examples of gay bars being raided, women fighting for the right to vote, and slavery as examples of progress and an implication that through looking at our history, we can then be optimistic towards social change and have hope that things will continue to get better.

Here are some groups that have had historical violations against their human rights and are still fighting:

  • Native Americans who were slaughtered
  • Africans who were enslaved
  • African Americans being lynched, shot, dragged. hosed, rioted against, etc
  • Women who were/are oppressed abused, raped, forced into sex tracfficking, etc
  • Japanese having an atomic bomb being dropped in their country, internment camps
  • Gays being discriminated against, and attacked
  • Jews and their long history since Adam and Eve
  • Arabs
  • Muslims

Historically speaking, "white" males are really the only non-oppressed group as a whole and some of the greatest offenders of these violations. Things may have progressed but only due in part to a group of white men getting together to make laws to tell other people that anyone who isn't a white man should be treated equally. That sounds absurd but as easily as they voted to bring legislation that would make certain acts illegal,  they can just as easily abolish whatever they see fit, when they see fit: see the incoming presidential cabinet. On paper everything looks good, but the mental of these people is what we have yet to change, and hope can't do that.

The world continues to improve in just about every way. Extreme poverty, child mortality, illiteracy, and global inequality are at historic lows; vaccinations, basic education, including girls’, and democracy are at all-time highs.
— Harvard cognitive scientist Stephen Pinker

Extreme poverty is noted as living below 1.90 international $ a day. And extreme poverty has steadily declined within the past 30 years from 52 percent to 21 percent. But if someone makes 2.00 international $ a day, they are above the extreme poverty line and simply within poverty. That doesn't showcase true progress.

Child mortality is on the decline also — at 42.5 deaths per 1,000. Since these deaths occur in low income countries at higher rates, this then places more children in levels of poverty as they grow up, increasing overall poverty throughout the world.

"Pinker also praises economic development: The booms in India and China have made millions of people wealthier and healthier without leaning on old recipes for social enrichment, like conquering other countries or radically redistributing wealth," writes Baer.

Non redistribution of wealth is one of the largest issues in the world, which once again increases the levels of poverty. The wealthy are hoarding their money and putting little effort into expanded their businesses traditionally. The goal seems to be to remove the human worker: self-driving Uber, kiosks at McDonalds (I always ask, if robots take all the jobs, who will have money to buy the things robots are creating and selling?) India and China are booming and creating wealthy individuals but it comes at a cost; think fossil fuels, China's constant air pollution, and global warming. Globally we live in a caste system. The millionaires answer to the few billionaires in this world who control everything, just as much as a sanitation worker, teacher, or CEO does. Old money has more lasting impact than the millionaires and billionaires of Silicon Valley. 

Psychology: Without being woo-woo about it, hope changes lives.

The psychology of hope is the only section that brings reality to what hope can provide when teamed with action. "Hope reflects the interaction between your goals, your sense of personal agency, and your pathfinding ability. It’s your ability to link your present to imagined futures ... the highly hopeful are canny 'goal investors': They diversify the things they want out of life, and sub one in when another can’t be reached," Baer writes, mentioning University of Kansas psychologist C. R. Snyder.

Athletes, high achieving students, politicians, small business owners, and entrepreneurs all have hope, but they use hope merely as a reminder. Their planning, studying, dedication, and ability to flow with life events is what allows them to achieve whatever they see fit. 

Hope Is Oppression

Hope is the Bible being given to slaves with promise of a rewarding afterlife. Hope is women, to this day, still arguing about being paid .80 to a dollar compared to men. Hope is a gay couple in Lakewood, CO going into a bakery to purchase a wedding cake and being turned away for no other reason except being gay. Hope was the majority of white women who fought so hard to get a right to vote in the 20's, voting for Donald Trump.

Hope is something we're systemically conditioned to believe in in order to keep us controlled into thinking things will always work out. That's what Family Matters, Full House, The Office, The Flash, and the majority of television shows tell us in a 30 or 60 minute episode. It's what the Transformers series, Jaws, and Castaway show us. It's what the Harry Potter Series, Graphic Novels, and Lord of The Rings allows us to read. "If you keep at it, things will always work out." But that's not reality, things don't always work out, and that's OK. But never seeing the other side prevents you from seeing reality.

Name a movie, book, or TV series where "evil" wins. Where "good intended people" had hope, fought hard, and lost, and that was the end. Think of a story that presents a world where things don't work out in the end.

Name five instances in your life where you or someone you know was defeated in some capacity, after giving it their best.

Compare The Hunger Games Trilogy (THG) to 1984; same dystopian world, written in different eras. THG tells people that if the government ever gets out of hand, we the people will rise up and win. 1984 tells us, given the same scenario, we the people will never win. Which book do you believe in? THG most likely because as noted, the optimism bias tells us things will be ok whether we directly involve ourselves or not. We're rarely shown the losing side of life because being part of the "system" requires us to have hope: hope you'll get a raise, hope you'll find someone to settle down with, hope you'll win the lotto, or hope you'll stay healthy. Meanwhile, you do the bare minimum at work, set unrealistic relationship standards, haven't won $5 in a scratch off, and eat antibiotic-filled fake meat while you sit all day long watching television, so you can relax and jump right back into the system.

But, as long as you have hope, everything will work out fine. 

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