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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 10/12/16

A Correspondence on Hope: Letters between a Student and a Professor

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I know you have not voted since the infamous election of 1972--and I can't blame you. This year I too have lost what little remaining electoral faith I had. The channels of power are already in place and those who look will see that Clinton will undoubtedly be the next president of the United States. Knowing this, I am sure you will not cast your vote come November. Nothing has changed since 1972, so why would you? It seems to me that you have lost all hope in the political process--and again, I cannot blame you.

If this is the case, why hasn't this discouragement spread to the other facets of your life? Nothing has changed since 1972; and yet, you continue to write articles exposing the elites, calling for justice, calling for a change--a change that has been actively suppressed by those in power for what seems like the entirety of human existence. You educate and inform many young people of the power elite, discussing the various nefarious acts they have orchestrated. Sometimes in class you seem more pragmatic than hopeful--like last semester when you declared Clinton the unequivocal victor of the general election long before any one of us had lost hope in Bernie Sanders. You were not wrong. If there is no chance of change I suppose it is better to live a life in truth than in lies. Regardless, one thing you never appear to be is cynical, or discouraged, or hopeless. Why is this? How is this? Where do you find this extreme mettle? It is something that I greatly admire about you, something that I have been wondering for quite some time.

Anyway, we will be heading back to class in a couple of weeks. I look forward to your JFK class; and I hope you are enjoying what little summer we have left!

Your student,

Henry

8/24/16

Dear Henry,

The question you ask me is a very important one. Over the years I have been asked it in passing conversion but never as eloquently as you put it. Usually I've been asked why I don't get depressed, writing and teaching - doing what I do. I've usually said, "I don't know; I just don't." Not much of an answer, right? But you've put me on the spot and I have had to think deeply about it.

A few months back I wrote an article about finding hope in offbeat places, and I have recently been thinking about a certain existential hopelessness I sense among a large part of the American left. No doubt this is true across the political spectrum as well.

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Educated in the classics, philosophy, literature, theology, and sociology, I am a former professor of sociology. My writing on varied topics has appeared widely over many years. I write as a public intellectual for the general public, not (more...)
 
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