FAO EDITORIAL. December 2011

The Meaning of Hope

“I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope,” so says Aeschylus in the Agamemnon.

Given the challenges of our days, we are all exiles now, out into a world whose challenges are difficult to name.

We live in interesting times, indeed, and these present themselves to us in various ways, but with the same storyline at day-end: there is hardship in our days.

The statistics of our American lives speaks of something so different from that dream through which we have found the road to here, in these shores and beyond.

Our children, so the news says, are at the receiving end, with their education at stake with the new talks of budget cuts, of controlling government spending, and of removing subsidies for the poorer families.

The numbers do not tell us something better: about one of every four children is deemed poor.

With job prospects dim, and unemployment at a rate that does not suggest some light at the end of our bleak world, we welcome the birth of a man-god with these thoughts.

In Oahu, the corporal work of mercy—the feeding of the homeless—has become a ritual for some people of the Philippines who have found their lot in life a bit better than those who sleep on road pavements and in parks.

They are the same people who were swept away like dust during the week of the Asian Pacific Economic Conference, and hidden somewhere for the delegates of the other twenty-one countries to not see.

For this is Paradise—and as such, the beggars and the homeless and the poor and the wretched are not to be found here.

These are the thoughts that hit us hard as we hum our way to the day of Christmas, thinking of silent nights and mistletoes and some Santa Claus coming from somewhere riding on a sled pulled by a reindeer with a human name.

In our tropical days, the images are not even apt, and yet we swallow these hook, line, and sinker presuming that this might give us good luck.

At the back of all these is the loss of the meaning of Christmas, and that meaning that relates to a living hope that the man-god gave us.

Despair is easier to name when one cannot hope any longer.

And so this leads us back to our duty: to give hope to the hopeless.

Some one said that: ‘Never deprive someone hope; it might all they have.’

In deed, in a world such as ours, we need to go back to the meaning of meaning itself, and say, that in life as in our need to live on, ‘Hope is only love of life.’

There is much promise of Christmas.

There is much promise of this man-god of history, this man-god of our times, this man-god of our dreary days.

That promise is none but the promise of hope.

We keep this promise of hope, indeed, a dream because it is the only one we have got.

We can only hope for the best, even as we say that hope will spring eternally from the heart that loves.

Merry Christmas—and the best of the New Year to everyone!

Dec 2011


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