Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hoping Against Hope

It's one of those days when, while fully recognising the importance of hope and the virtue to be found in hoping, Mankind's apparently hopeless condition is thrown in one's face from all quarters.
The whole Damian McBride business is just really, really nasty; there are no higher or stronger words for it. One is sure that Mr. McBride, Mr. Draper and the others involved are not bad men at heart. Bad men are people like career criminals, those who make it their business to profit from misery. While Mr. McBride was well-paid, partisan and given latitude to engage in blue-sky thinking which ended up being coloured by the pastels of the gutter, nobody has died as a result of what he has done. He and others may have conspired to tell lies and spread innuendoes; while wrong and immoral, if this were to be prohibited our newspapers would be out of business almost overnight. A case could even be made that he hasn't seriously cheapened public life; its values have been shown to be so cheap so many times that this is really just another bucketload of scum thrown on top of an already overflowing sewer.
To beg more sensitive readers' pardon, what he has done seems no different from the type of behaviours attributed to and described by Donald Segretti in 'All The President's Men'; those he describes as 'ratfucking'. Obviously, for those who would have been lied about and smeared, these revelations must have been unpleasant, unsettling and upsetting. Yet would many of them have behaved any differently, had the jackboot been on the other foot? A threadbare aphorism concerning sins and first stones springs to mind.
For the most unpleasant aspect of all in this affair is that the real nature of Mr. McBride's offence is revealed as having been breaking the rules of the game. Whatever game it is, it is one played far above the heads of the public, by insiders going at each other with all the fraternal warmth of a shootout between the Gambinos and the Genoveses. When we are involved in a Trojan War which has claimed tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of lives, the real obscenity in this business is that so much of the outrage is manufactured, for no reason other than that one faction hasn't played nice - the outrage shown by many of Mr. McBride's critics resembles the praise of a crowd which enjoys seeing one boxer beat another to death, while complimenting him on punching above the belt.
Such a sweaty, incestuous world as that inhabited by Mr. McBride must be one without hope, or at best false hope. At first, hopes might be of changing the world; but hopes directed solely to the aims of this world are bound to be crushed - far too many husbands lead hen-pecked lives on account of their wives' failure to understand that on his own, Man is imperfect and imperfectible. A truly hopeful man wouldn't engage in this sort of stuff. He wouldn't feel he needed to.
Hope springs eternal, while hopelessness perpetually sags. While there is no doubt that Sir David Attenborough's career as a popular naturalist has been long and distinguished, his contribution to the culture has largely been predicated by his ability to describe the type of behaviours once enunciated by Donald Segretti. Accordingly, his views on population control are neither here nor there. Population control mavens seem to behave in a form of predestination that would baffle a Jehovah's Witness. In their worldview, it is not just Heaven that is destined to be peopled by an Elect, but Earth also. Not even the most extreme predestinarian, sure of his damnation, would claim that while his hope of Heaven was hopeless, there would be no point in trying to do something about the Earth.
Worrying about the Earth's population is as fruitless as the population control mavens seem to wish us all to be. Only the truly backward, their spirits broken like butterflies on a wheel, don't have hope, or place their hope in numbers and projections. Numbers are fine things; but they're not alive.
Hope lives. Hope is not the property of those with means. No doubt some atheistic conehead will one day say they have found the part of the brain from whence hope comes; and if they think that will ever stop people believing in belief, then, with the utmost sarcasm, one wishes them the best of British luck. Hope comes from God Himself. Both the McBride affair and Sir David Attenborough's chunterings make me marvel at how just small and puny we are, and how desperately horrible and Hellish having to live in a hopeless world would be. The Men Who Hope Are The Sons Of He Who Is - and we have a slightly better patrimony than your average higher ape.

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