What Dare We Hope?
Copyright © 2009 by Richard A. Grossman, Ph.D. ∑ All Rights reserved ∑ E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I was 13, my ninth grade social studies teacher, Mr. Hahn, sent our class home one day with the following assignment: ask one of your parents what historical figure, dead or alive, had the greatest influence on their life. When the votes were tallied the next day, Jesus narrowly beat out John Kennedy, with Abe Lincoln finishing a distant third. My motherís choice, Friedrich Nietzsche, received no additional votes. The choice did, however, prompt a half pitying, half affectionate laugh from Mr. Hahn. You see, I already had a reputation as being different and I suppose a little tortured. Mr. Hahn gave me the same mixed laugh when he handed back a test on which I had incorrectly answered the question: Whom was the colony of Jamestown named after? I hadnít a clueóI had probably spent that class staring into the abyss, with the abyss staring back at meóso I wrote the name of the only James I knew, figuring it would be a long shot. That would be Henry.
My motherís sage, Nietzsche, said that ďhope is the worst of all evils, for it prolongs the torment of man.Ē I find that a bit hyperbolic, but I must confess, like my mother, I do view hope with some suspicion. Hope springs eternal, as evolutionary psychologists see it, not necessarily because the future is bright, but because we are genetically programmed to see it as bright. If we didnít see the world as bright, it would be hard to get out of bed in the morning, and therefore, exceedingly difficult to attract a mate. Without a mate, of course, our genes would not be passed on. Having attracted a mate, and having had a child and passed my genes on, sometimes I wonder, as many middle-aged and older people do: isnít it time, perhaps, to go back to bed? By the way if you feel hopeful, because you think hopeful people view the world more realistically then non-hopeful people, there are a
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What Dare We Hope?