Here lies Old Hope


I am at the age when the pattern that leads to the deaths of ill dear ones seems clear. Whether it is a doctor’s optimism or the body’s stubbornness to give in to mortality, there always seems to be that glimmer of possibility that shows up in the last few hours of being alive.

The both praised and criticized tax-cut compromise, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,”  the country getting enough Senators behind the New START treaty and the last minute passage of the 9/11 first responders’ Zadroga Bill, were certainly legislative victories for President Obama and the nation, as the lame duck Congress lay on its death bed. But despite grabbing a few headlines like “Obama Scores in Lame Duck Session,” “Surprising outcome of lame-duck Congress,” and “Obama’s surprising success,” the 111th Congress passed away, leaving thousands of patriots who call the United States home without a path to citizenship, and millions of others standing on the sidelines scratching their heads about how a government dominated by one party did not fulfill its potential. 

Thank goodness that it is our hopes, rather than our dreams, being carried to the grave. Dreams are eternal, and able – with the help of will – to be made real; hope is a hitching post in the desert of a far away land, where a pony left tethered is only as real as its memory.

I dream of a day when this nation puts more money into jobs and education than it does into jails and defense. Though formidable, that is achievable, with action and the demonstration of will, for will becomes power, and the more vociferous and actionable the will, the stronger the power.

I hope that I win the lottery. That is something I have no control over, no matter how much I visualize my head sticking out of the top of a pile of money. The only thing I can do is buy a ticket, which is what I did on November 4, 2008.

Dreams intersected Hope in 2008, when, through actionable will, we elected a government that professed a vision for the redemption and future of our country that we could all embrace. Indeed, the 2008 election ignited the will of more people than any election has in my lifetime.

In his eulogy, last week, to the first Congress of his presidency, Obama said the post-election legislative accomplishments showed that “it’s possible for Democrats and Republicans to have principled disagreements; to have some lengthy arguments but to ultimately find common ground to move the country forward.”

I’m hopeful he’s correct, that we can move forward in the 112th Congress, despite the GOP being in firm control of the House of Representatives, and the Democrats’ narrow majority in the Senate. I’m hopeful Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid (D-NV) can push through rule changes that will make it harder for Republicans to filibuster a bill, so the Senate can really be productive.

I now return to my dreams and let my old hopes go.  Attachment, as the Buddha says, is suffering. It’s time to detach our mule from the mortician’s hearse carrying the remains of Hope’s first incarnation, and hitch it to the wagon of new hope, guide it on the road of  dreams headed away from the graveyard, and, with intention, steer it back to the mountaintop.

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2 thoughts on “Here lies Old Hope

  1. Thank you for this. My goodness, you write well. I bought a ticket for the Obama presidency, too, and I’m not walking out before the movie is over. And, by the way, my 17-year-old daughter has a lot of hope for her future.

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    1. Thanks, Susan. We are the masters of our own destiny, individually and collectively. If I were to say anything to your daughter, it would be not to tie her hope up somewhere and walk away, not to abandon it, but to keep checking in on it, and keep hope alive. Meanwhile, as Thoreau said, “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

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