Why Do We Even Bother to Hope?
David R. Weiss – February 13, 2021
I admit: I feel kicked in the gut. But the writing was on the wall from the very beginning. Despite Trump willfully repeating lies about the election, both before and after Election Day, and using the reach of his lies and the volume of his rhetoric to inflame his base until they stormed the Capitol, we were told from the beginning that there would be no conviction.
Politics is often long on posturing and short on justice. That can be true on both sides of the aisle, yet we found ourselves hoping that this breach of civility, this direct assault on our democracy, would be met by resolute even if costly patriotism rather than crude partisanship. We hoped that the stakes—frightfully high in a nation as deeply polarized as it is well-armed—would cause the Senate to rise above its Trumpian stupor to, in fact, put “America first.”
We hoped the eloquent words of the House Managers and the searing footage of the Capitol carnage would be cause for conscience to come forward. We hoped that new details, maybe even witnesses, would provide the necessary “cover” for those too cowardly to do their duty on principle alone. We hoped. And we hoped. And we hoped.
And once again we feel played for the fool.
Is there no justice, O God? This man, bereft of office remains filled with vengeful anger. He promises to consolidate his movement—the one he “did not” incite but whose violence he quietly adores—to send our nation further and faster toward social and political calamity.
Is there no justice, O God?! We will be told that now it’s time to “move on.” Look for middle ground somewhere between a lynching tree and a new wave of voter obstruction. Somewhere between caged children and employment abuses. Somewhere between hate crimes and whispered hatred. Somewhere between overt white nationalism and mere white privilege. Somewhere between ecological self-annihilation and business as usual.
Is there no justice, O God?!!! When the party that clings to prayer so openly (and successfully!) mocks justice, employing false piety to put a shiny veneer on abject evil, why do we even bother to hope?
Because hope holds the heart of God.
Because the hope we dare to feel—not foolish optimism, but the restless anguished desperate longing for justice even when the odds are immeasurably and unconscionably long—that hope is the arc of the moral universe asking for our company. And even in the moments—so many and so costly throughout history—when the arc has failed to bend, even then hope matters. Betrayed, broken-hearted, angered—those feelings twisting inside are hope refusing to die.
Our refusal to make peace with injustice, our refusal to negotiate over the lot of the poor, our refusal to countenance the ongoing pillage of creation—these things mark our hope, too. In this moment, the very agony of hope is its unwavering witness to moral truth in the face of immoral power.
When I say hope holds the heart of God, I mean—whether you count yourself a believer or not—that hope holds the longing of universe for beauty, for harmony, for liberation, and for love. Somedays that hope soars in our hearts. Somedays it sobs in our souls. And sometimes it steels itself for the next opportunity to bend the arc toward the heart of God.
Today we sob. Tomorrow we steel. And here and there along the way I promise you, we soar.
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David Weiss is a theologian, writer, poet and hymnist, doing “public theology” around climate crisis, sexuality, justice, diversity, and peace. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more at www.davidrweiss.com where he blogs under the theme, “Full Frontal Faith: Erring on the Edge of Honest.” Support him in writing Community Supported Theology at www.patreon.com/fullfrontalfaith.