I’m not sure how old I was the first time that I heard the story of Pandora’s Box, but I remember thinking that I was the only person to spot the tricky little twist. You see, what happens in the story is that Pandora is given a box full of all the evils of the world: sickness, death, war, famine, poverty, Green Day’s early discography, etc. But among those evils was one good thing: hope. Although negativity and destruction had been released into the world to torment us, the gods were merciful enough to at least give humanity hope.
Or at least that’s how the story is always presented. I, for one, have always been incredibly suspicious of the idea of hope. I mean, it was in a cursed box full of evils, for crying out loud! And by dint of being the only one that stopped to talk, it convinced Pandora that it wasn’t like the others, but that it was the one that could be trusted. Guys, that’s not even slick. It’s embarrassing that anyone took that at face value. Obviously, hope is the sneakiest and most evil of all. That is literally the only interpretation that even gives the story a moral, you know? But over the years, just about everyone I’ve shared this interpretation with has accused me of being unnecessarily cynical.
So this week, I took everyone’s advice and let myself believe in hope. I decided to have a little faith that there was good in this world, and to allow myself to think that maybe, just maybe, something nice would happen. And do you know what I got in return?
I got stabbed right through the fucking heart, because of course that is what happened.
At this moment, I truly could not tell you why I let myself hope that the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor would be indicted for that charge. I don’t know how I watched the Attorney General in Kentucky hem and haw with his thumb up his ass (as my mother would say) for months and still hoped that he was going to come around and make the right decision. I cannot explain why, even as I watched the municipal government in Louisville fortify the city in anticipation of rioting and unrest, I had any hope that the grand jury decision would be anything other than a miscarriage of justice.
I should have known better than to hope. I should’ve remembered the lesson I internalized all those years ago: hope is not to be trusted.
Hope is the little voice that deceives you into thinking that the situation at hand isn’t actually as bad as you already damn well know that it is.
Hope is what allows us to become complacent instead of taking action.
Hope is what makes us think that the wheels of justice might turn on their own, however slowly.
Hope is what makes us believe that our direct involvement isn’t needed to create a better and fairer America. Instead, we hope that it could somehow come about on its own.
And then it doesn’t, because of course it doesn’t.
Hoping for justice does not bring justice. Asking for justice does not bring justice. Only demanding justice, by whatever means necessary, will eventually bring justice.
If we’re going to fight against all the evils in this world, we mustn’t forget that hope is the most dangerous of all of them.