Sunday, February 5, 2023
#36 / Lance Morrow: A "Pro-Hope" Guy
Back on December 8th, I wrote a blog posting about Guy R. McPherson, whom I denominated a "No Hope Guy." On the day before Christmas, my email inbox delivered a meditation by Lance Morrow, an American essayist who has written, mainly, for Time Magazine.
Morrow's Christmas Eve essay ran in City Journal, which is pretty "conservative," or politically "right," but which will probably let you read what Morrow has to say without imposing any paywall penalty. I enjoyed his essay. It was titled, "Hope, The Secret of Everything." Click on that link if you'd like to read what Morrow has to say on the topic.
One might expect that an essay with the title, "Hope, The Secret of Everything," would be devoted to a "proof" of what seems to be a "thesis statement," as captured in that title. Not exactly!
In fact, Morrow mainly talks about encounters that he and his car have had with deer - both a buck and a doe - and about asteroids that may be coming (who knows when) to destroy the planet. He touches, also, on saving a goldfinch (again, struck by his car), antisemitism, Putin, Stalin, Trotsky, Lincoln, Darwin, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Morrow's only reference to "hope," coming near the end of the essay, is just that simple statement he has also used as his title: "Hope, the secret of everything." He adds to that observation: "The mystery of grace."
Morrow apparently doesn't think that one has to (or can) "prove" that "hope is the secret of everything." It's an interesting strategy, rhetorically. You just have to "hope" it's true.
Thinking about the nature of "hope," as Morrow's essay suggests that we should do, one comes to the conclusion that "hope" is less something that can be proved than it is an expectation - and an expectation based solely on itself. Hope, it would appear from what Morrow writes, is a characteristic of our mind, an anticipation - again, without proof - of some positive outcome to all in which we are involved (meaning, actually, life itself).
Guy R. McPherson outlines many facts that he thinks are convincing that we, as human beings, have absolutely no hope for anything but death and destruction. He makes a pretty good case for that discouraging conclusion, too.
Morrow takes another tack. No need to try to "prove" that we should hope. We should just hope. That is the "secret of everything," because our life is fashioned as a "mystery," and our efforts to impose a particular "story" on our existence will always turn out to be unsatisfying. And not only "unsatisfying," essentially fruitless, as well. Morrow suggests that our best course is just to live, always, in grateful appreciation for having been allowed to live at all. That attitude of mind is the gift of grace to which Morrow alludes.
I would like to think that we might all experience that kind of hope, a hope so deeply founded that it doesn't need any "proof," and that brings with it, because of that very fact, a "peace which passes all understanding."