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Hope is relative, so too audacity

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
January 2, 2009


Hope, like faith and optimism, is intangible, without substance. A exercise of long-term make believe, hope is an intellectual Hallmark card. Hope is a projection of a desired outcome. Hope is also a small town in Arkansas, population 10,616. And let's not forget Hope, Alaska, an even smaller town of 200.

Bill Clinton, aka the Comeback Kid, aka Mr. "Why won't he go away," was known as the Man from Hope in his campaign to defeat George Herbert Walker Bush in 1992. Sixteen years later, Barak Obama ran on the hope ticket. His book the Audacity of Hope, a New York Times Bestseller, was an inspirational treatise of wishful thinking that even won the praises of Oprah.

I bring this up because I received a text message from Chad's iPhone. A well written, if not persuasive, letter commenting on my lack of optimism for 2009 and how, "...our attitudes will provide us the hope we need to get through this challenging year."

Chad's constructive criticisms prompted some critical thinking on my part.

A realist of pragmatic intellect, I don't do hope. I do words and reason. Although I live in awe of the beauty of the natural world I also see the ugly reality of existence on Planet earth, 2009. My job as journalist is to chronicle the ecological unraveling of Southern California. As an environmental writer my commentary reflects global conditions, not Pollyanna possibilities of what might be... if only... things were different.

Things aren't different.

Human beings are currently responsible for the sixth great extinction on planet earth due to our anthropocentric appetites. Whales are being slaughter as you read this, rain forests are being felled, arctic sea ice is disappearing, habitats destroyed, and the biological integrity of global ecosystems are being undermined to the point of collapse.

Looking for hope in a time of extreme global conflict seems reckless, if not downright irresponsible. Gaza, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are under some form of occupation, and the war on terrorism is expanding at a terrible cost. Africa is a powder keg of drought, disease and tribal conflict. Pollution and population pressures will soon leave China and India will soon collapse under their own weight.

I wish I could find hope amidst the bitter truth of a world where children starve while warlords eat like kings. Where is the hope in crashing fish stocks, dead and dying coral reefs, evaporating rivers, and rising sea levels? Where is the joy in extinction?

Chad also stated "you have to give the people hope. Doom and gloom was 10 to 20 years ago." From which I can only assume Chad is not fully aware of current events. As of this writing Israel is dropping American bombs on the Palestinians people, World financial markets are crashing, Penguins are washing up dead and dying on the beaches of Brazil and it's now clear Polar Bears and Orangutan will not survive the 21st century.

Hope is relative. I don't do hope.

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