Perhaps we are as scared of our capacity for good, as we are of our potential to be bad. Of not just letting other people down, but of the ways in which we could bless them and lift them up. We’re frightened to hope, just as much as we shrink from despair.
Despair is a door slamming and the echo of footsteps down a long corridor. It offers control, predictability and safety. Despair tells me that the woman I dreamed of becoming has gone – that hurts, but at least I know where I stand. I’m no good and I never will be. I don’t need to try any more. I’ll just sit in the dark with my memories and loneliness.
Hope however, is all about risk. It suggests opening up, reaching out, pushing the boundaries of your world and seeing how far they’ll stretch. It implies courage, vulnerability and strength. It’s about dreaming and wanting and yearning and feeling. It puts us in touch with ourselves – with what we value and who we want to be and the sort of world we want to live in. It can’t be contained or constrained. It burns undimmed, in even the loneliest, blackest places. The prison cell. The concentration camp.
Hope makes us human. When we lose our hope, we lose ourselves. But perhaps that’s exactly what such slaveries offer – a way of killing, not just our fears, but our dreams as well.