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A hope note

Last winter I watched a Cooper’s hawk kill and consume a dove in my back yard. The experience gave me a new appreciation for our terms ‘hawk’ (to stand for a warmonger) and ‘dove’ (to stand for a peacenik). The hawk gripped the dove in its talons until it quit flopping and jerking. Virtually the only hope the downed dove ever had was for me to shoot or scare off the hawk, or for another hawk to come along and compete for the dinner, possibly allowing the dove a window of escape.
But I have no gun, and no other hawk happened along. The little dove was powerless to save itself, outside intervention its only hope.
Sometimes we have no choice but to look away from harsh, present certainty and dream of a more felicitous, however distant, possibility. I think of Forrest Gump and Jenny. Six-year-old Jenny, having run into a cornfield from an abusive father, prays with Forrest: ‘God make me a bird, so I can fly far, far away.’
Sometimes we are like Jenny, or like victims of a tsunami who are being swept out to sea, or victims of an earthquake buried in rubble, powerless to dig ourselves out, or like prisoners of war whose only chance for freedom is a prisoner swap or an armistice. There are times when all we can do is wait for a rescue, or hope the crisis will abate.
However escapist hope may be at times, for those times it is our lifesaver.
It keeps our spirit from withering and dying when there is so little we can do.
Hope guards our being when there’s nothing doing. Hope holds us in there and refuses to give up, regardless of what the final outcome may be. As Churchill implored the British people, when they were stuck in the throes of World War II: ‘Never, ever give up.’