When you give up on hope, you turn away from fear.
And when you quit relying on hope, and instead begin to protect the people, things, and places you love, you become very dangerous indeed to those in power.
In case you’re wondering, that’s a very good thing.
I've linked to Derrick Jensen's "Beyond Hope" before. This summer, and particularly this month, I've been watching people lashing out in fear and anger on all sorts of progressive sites, and I can't help but see echoes in events like the London riots. It's been painful to watch, and, when I've joined the conversation, it's been painful to participate.
I think people are desperate, and afraid, and it's becoming slowly more obvious to even the most oblivious of us that we are in a world of hurt. That much is clear, but what is far from clear is what is to be done about it. It's that frightened uncertainty that I think is fueling the savagery I've been seeing in comments; what we are seeing is not a just a community in crisis, but a community confronting the bitter fact that the crisis was precipitated by the very systems that were supposed to protect us in such moments. Some people are clinging frantically to the idea that if we all wish hard enough, if we pay enough attention, the system will work the way it is supposed to - for example, that if we continue to vote thoughtfully, and write letters to our representatives to tell them what we think and feel, the right people and the right actions will emerge from the chaos to fix things.
Here's what's terrifying: they won't. We can't count on the people in power to do the right thing any more, no matter how you define power - we've been betrayed by politicians, by corporations, by the media, and all of them have worked in collaboration (some deliberately, some simply by dint of taking the easier path) to remove themselves from accountability.
Here's what's terrifying: we're going to have to fix this ourselves. Moreover, we're going to have to do that in the face of the same structures that put those who work against us in power, and we're going to have to do that knowing that those on the top of the heap will resist - some passively, by being dead weight resistant to change, some actively by denouncing efforts to create a more humane world as impractical, and some still further by not only declaring such actions as impractical but illegal and traitorous.
I don't want this, and I don't think any of my friends want this. We're being dragged kicking and screaming to this conclusion, because any normal person wants to live in a society that works, that doesn't require vast efforts of its citizens to survive and look out for each other. Facing the fact that we don't live in such a society is terrifying, and it's far easier to argue over minutiae and wishful thinking, because most of us barely have the energy or time or money to run our daily lives, let alone start a revolution.
I don't know what the answer is, or what's going to happen. All I know is that people are worried and afraid and they have no good outlets for those emotions, no good way to find and obtain relief. And that scares me.