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To Hope or not to Hope

For a wedding gift, Zeus gave Pandora (Allgifts, in english) an urn which contained all the ills that face humanity. Sickness and death and pain and hate and suchlike destructive things.

The urn, which was made of the same clay from which Pandora was made (there’s poignancy in this observation) was sealed and the instructions for use, to her and her husband, Epimetheus (Prometheus’ little brother) included that it never be opened.

It was a divine wooden horse. Zeus knew that Pandora would not be able to resist the force of her curiosity and she’d lift open the lid.

Zeus, you see, had a grudge against Prometheus because he, Prometheus had made man andinstilled in him the dignity and self confidence not to bow in abeyance to Zeus nor to any of the other gods.

Prometheus’ man needed no gods!

An anathema!

(Of course we’ve strayed badly from that since then but…)

So Zeus – it’s too long a story to relate it here in full so please forgive the shameful contraction- wanting to destroy Prometheus’ creature he devised this very cunning, Odyssean plan: Make a woman (with the help of Hephaitus) instil in her the trait of curiosity, put all the ills in an urn and give it to her as a gift, much like the Danaans gave the gift of the wooden horse to the Trojans. No wonder Virgil feared the Greeks. “Timeo danaos et dona ferentes,” he said with a tremor in his voice.

Zeus’s plan worked. Pandora, unable to contain her curiosity lifted the lid of the urn to see what was inside. Within seconds she realised what it was and she immediately put the lid back on. Too late though. All the ills have flown out and they pester us to this day.

All except Hope.

Hope? Is that an ill? Surely not. “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” to quote the poet, Alexander Pope. It can’t be an ill. Surely only good things spring eternal in our breast.

An ill or a good?

Hope makes its possessor compliant. Give them enough hope and they’ll lick your boots. Give them enough hope and they won’t start a revolution. Give them enough hope and they’ll make you head of the revolution.

And then, of course, there is this: something based on hope is something on instinct and not on fact. It’s unreliable and liable to bring about an ill.

“Be a good boy or girl and do as god says (“god,” a deceptive substitution of the word “I”) and when you’ll die, you’ll end up in Paradise.”

Things that are based in facts are not hopes but expectations. Valid expectations.

Yes, those wonderfully plucky, brave, conscience-packed hearts and minds, those kids with the vibrant awareness and ardent concern for the future of the planet upon which totally depends their own future and the future of the generations to come, will vote soon.

And they will vote against politicians who waste time with tricky, conniving and smartarsey moves to suit their own, selfish agendas, instead of legislating with an honest, genuine wish to do the right thing.

Those students who’ve marched in their thousands are with David Attenborough who recently warned us that,

“The world’s people have spoken. Time is running out. They want you, the decision-makers, to act now. Leaders of the world, you must lead. The continuation of civilisations and the natural world upon which we depend is in your hands.”

With whom are our politicians?

And so, for whom will these students vote? Where do they direct their hope? And what sort of hope is it?

The ALP, through Tanya Plibersek, Bill Shorten, Penny Wong and others hold no genuine attraction for these wise young people. These pseudo-Lefties will do nothing about anything relating to the environment, including about the very emblem of climatic catastrophe, the Adani coal mine. They will, of course, these pseudo-Lefties, incessantly fill our ears with mellifluous rhetoric and insulting, vacuous excuses why it is that they can do nothing: “Adani is not that bad for the environment,” Bill Shorten was heard saying.

Or “the market will take care of it! We are not responsible for the market’s behaviour. Nor are we responsible for the Great Barrier Reef. Or the inmates on Nauru and Manus. We can sleep easy.” (Paraphrasing Plibersek and others, in unison with the LNP).

But the “market” is no longer the ancient Greek agora which took good care of sardines and olives and figs and walnuts and chickens and eggs and wine and garrulous gossip.

The “market” now is Wall St. and Fleet St and a whole lot of other “Streets” where the only thing that happens is the syphoning of the value of everything and the bloating of egos and of wallets -fewer by the day- and the proliferation of crimes.

The market will take care of it, says the ALP, which, to my eyes at least it is the clearest indication yet that when it comes to legislative responsibility on issues of significance, these two major parties are of the same view: abrogate it (their responsibility) to the market, a market that is now not only free and unfettered in any way but one that has gone totally wild and gluttonous.

Don’t interfere with the market.

Make your job a well paid sinecure.

So, they, too, these pseudo Lefties, will sell us oblivion as if it were a newly baked loaf of bread.

Put all their words together, all the words of the ALP, add up all their syllables and look at their sum worth. I mean that number there, beneath the bottom line. How different is that number to the number beneath the syllables uttered by Minister for Resources Canavan and Prime Minister, Morrison: (to paraphrase them) “These students should be at school learning about science… and not protesting… or they’ll be joining the dole queues!”

What they mean, of course, is for the students to stay in class where they can learn science, all the science that is, except that which has to do with the climate and with the survival of our planet, and (Morrison) how “not to argue with their teacher,” who, in his mind is also their master, their ruler, their god, their Zeus!”

I was waiting to hear the Sunday school mantra, “Children should be seen but not heard.” I feel short-changed!

Just another mode of Tony Abbott’s (erstwhile PM of Australia but constant ruler of the LNP and his cluster of political conspirators): “women should stay home and do the ironing” or Trump’s (to journalist Jim Acosta) “Let me run the country, you run CNN.” Or, on climate change: “I’m not going to put the country out of business. When you look at China, they have not-good air that comes over to the U.S.

“People don’t want to talk about it. we’re not going to spend trillions and make it good for others but not (us).”

I weep!

Reminds one of Galileo Galileii and his troubles with the High Ignoranti of the Catholic Church on the issue of where in the universe this planet swirls and spins; and of a whole lot more people, of course, past and present who had the conscience-packed heart, the vital awareness and theindissolublepluck and drive, to contradict their teachers, their masters, their Zeus.

Dismissiveness: it is the first requisite of an authoritarian government, the first requisite of a bully.

What do we do with Hope?

Do we let these glowing gems of humanity, these explorers of the moral compass, have some hope or do we, instead, give them something – some “thing” some deed, some factual, some palpable thing, something that can teach the Canavans and the Morrisons and the Shortens and the Pliberseks and the Trumps of this planet about the quintessence of science, the quintessence of life?

Pandora is confused. The poor woman is wondering what to do with that little thing wildly flapping inside her urn.

No one stands on the “high moral ground” anymore because morality itself has been trashed a long time ago.

And just as McBeth has killed Sleep, so have the long line of Ministers and Prime Ministers in this country and in many other countries have killed morality.

Or have deformed it.

Just a few days ago, a fairly decent journo – “decent in ethical journalism and decent also in dress” was refused entry into our Parliament because – Zeus forefend!

Patricia Karvelas dared to bare too much arm flesh!

Refusing the baring of arms in Parliament is a new lifting of the bar of morality. Or a new lowering.


15 comments

  1. New England Cocky

    It’s time.

  2. Joseph Carli

    Is the lesson from history the new “Pandora’s Box”?…after all, in history are recorded all the examples and lessons of this or that ‘ill’ that will beset those that refuse to learn from history…I quite often refer to Roman history and the excellent archived behaviours listed there…It is all there for us to heed or ignore..every example of habitual patterns of behaviour.
    It is up to us to read these examples of mythology or factual history to our advantage.

  3. Josephus

    Hope can be denialism though. That the catastrophe won’t happen. Read George Marshall, ‘Don’t even think about it, Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change’, Bloomsbury, 2014.
    Hope that allowed the human sheep awaiting slaughter to deny at the very door of the ‘shower’ that it would rain down water and not cyanide gas. Hope that I am immune to being shot, gassed or bayoneted because I am unique.
    Hope is the death of revolt. Or of change.
    The result of our deadening hope will be desperate hordes fleeing sunken islands. What will the survivors on land do?

    Labor should be better than this. Shame on Labor for supporting Adani and the rest, for fear of losing the votes of fearful hopers, instead of speaking truth to power and to the people.

  4. George Theodoridis

    Quite so, Josephus. That’s the point I wished to make in the article. Don’t hope, act. Don’t give hope, give deed. That sort of thing.
    Joe Carli. Yes, Pandora’s box is misnamed. The myth has it that it was an urn made of the same material that both she, as well as man were made.
    Prometheus made man and Hephaestus made woman.
    Steven Fry has a gorgeous telling of it in his Mythos, a great work. Highly recommend it.

  5. ace last

    Labor is a hopeless case of a dis-liked, weak leader who has no backbone and is NO viable alternative for Australia electors.
    After how many years of people’s polls, they still tell us Shorten is as popular as the black plague.
    Why Shorten cant even get the right-shoe on the right foot, let alone walk a straight line.

  6. Miriam English

    Both the big parties are hopelessly corrupted by money and influence.

    It is possible to have hope, yet remain realistic. I see politics as having largely destroyed itself and made itself mostly irrelevant. Individuals, local councils and small companies are spearheading the move to renewable energy while big party politicians drag their feet and take “donations” from corrupting sources and trade inner-party political power for betraying the voting public. Even if politicians do nothing at all I think we will have mostly renewable energy in a decade or so.

    Science is showing us all kinds of developments that can save us from ourselves. And people are changing the way they see the world too: decades ago it seemed like ordinary people hated trees, so that most Australian towns were bare. Now many towns and even cities actively encourage trees and shrubs and even set aside recreational areas in urban and suburban areas that were once concrete wastelands. People enjoy seeing wildlife, and purposely plant trees and shrubs that attract birdlife and other native animals.

    We are changing. Respect for politicians has reached an all-time low; almost everybody knows climate change is human-caused and wants it curbed to protect their kids and grandkids.

    Hope and realistic cynicism can co-exist. Hope stops us giving up.

  7. helvityni

    Bared arms/ covered arms…trivial things become centre point when nothing of importance is dealt with…

    My grandson would now let us know: It’s not FAIR that Julie can do it but not Patricia…

    The young ones are my only hope for Australia….

  8. Brian

    I’m enjoying your work here George. I didn’t know the Pandora story in detail but it sounds much like the forbidden fruit story, where Adam and Eve listen to a talking serpent of all things, then ignore its advice. Bit of a stretch though for young minds: don’t open the box, don’t eat the apple. Every child comes armed with the will to cure his or her curiosity, that’s a given. The ‘box’ gets opened or the ‘apple’ gets chomped. Pandora’s box and attracting the trails of life versus the Tree of knowledge and taking on the world of suffering, what choice do any of us have.
    I wonder who were the first storytellers, they left a lot of hints.

  9. Jon Chesterson

    Hope keeps the afflicted occupied… and Morrison behaves like Zeus to afflict all those who don’t believe – Don’t believe in his slogans and decrees, the purity and sophistry of his gift, for they will be damned upon the wagging of his forked finger, crippled by his malicious serpent tongue, silenced by the swell of his self admiring smirk, and the prophet’s stuffy straw stuffed arms.

  10. Kronomex

    I’ve noticed since the debacle that was the last day of the kindergarten full of spoiled nasty children that is parliament that the “It’s time to start trashing Labor.” has begun in some of the main sleaze media. Gosh, what a surprise.

  11. Jon Chesterson

    …and the Daily Telegraph were trashing David Attenborough yesterday – Who history will and already reads as the ultimate friend of humanity and voice of all living creatures on the planet, advocate for they who had no choice.

    Despicable parliamentary and media circles.

  12. Stephen

    We the people have let this circus go on for to long. The rules need to be changed so that politicians are rewarded for improving the lot of the people. The cushy board positions or consultancy roles within industry groups…all this must end! The clock is ticking as our planet burns and by the time it becomes bleeding obvious we are headed towards death and disaster it will be to late. The people need to rise up and take back our democracy from our self interested and corrupted ‘representatives’!

  13. Kronomex

    On a side note: The MH370 was tragic but I’m getting sicked and tired of hearing about it. There seems to some new conspiracy, alien, you name it, theory almost every month, usually from the main sleaze media. How many more millions of dollars will be wasted in the pursuit of this?

    https://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/mh370-theory-data-analysis-points-to-new-probable-crash-site/news-story/a53b708ee8e88402b1c905df89351180

    Modified isn’t the word I would use: cretin moron, idiot, bogan…

    https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/wtf/melbourne-man-ethan-bramble-claims-to-be-the-worlds-most-modified-youth/news-story/4624e81863809f433f8a5a36f65a9e12

  14. George Theodoridis

    Many thanks for your comments folks. Thanks Helvi for the link to Allan’s article. Great stuff.
    I love your optimism Miriam and I hope my cynicism does no harm to the great vision you have of the people’s power and wisdom not only being greater than that of the politicians but also that the politicians, in their relentless effort to help their money-loving buddies don’t hinder the progress of this, most worthy hope.
    Brian thank you. Box, urn, tree with fruit, it’s all the same when it comes to curiosity, a cheeky, rascal thing to possess. Always gets one into trouble.
    Quite so, Jon: Hope keeps the afflicted occupied and away from the afflicters. Andrew Bolt is, indeed despicable. I think he goes to bed every night uttering vulgar words and cursing the fact that he’s not the PM of the country.

    I agree with you Stephen but the rules are made by those and for those who cannot be touched by them. The rules belong to them and so is the process of their making. Alas, there’s no way of breaking them, changing them or getting rid of them. Not by anyone else and I no longer have a pitch fork.

    Ace, I agree with you wholeheartedly about Labor. The word “labour” is a word that describes an act of virtue -from tilling the soil to giving birth. What the Labor Party seems to have done to that word had turned it into an act of profanity and criminality.

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