How About a Little Hope?

Source: 
Esquire
Author: 
Litsa Dremousis
Publication date: 
July 30, 2007

We are all going to die. But while this is an unfortunate byproduct of still being alive, this fact has taken on a pervasive sense of doom over the last few years. It's not that we're going to die, it's that it's going to happen right now and in an incredibly painful way. Every day it's something new: Bird flu, global warming, terrorism, gun-toting school kids, crazy old Russians stockpiling newer nukes, poisonous Chinese toothpaste...

The list goes on and on. So why do most of us resist the urge to suck down a Vicodin Stoli and call it a day? The reasons are as elusive as they are myriad. American philosopher William James once asked, “Why should we think upon things that are lovely? Because thinking determines life. It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment. Environment modifies life but does not govern life. The soul is stronger than its surroundings.”

Perhaps we're compelled to live not merely because it is a biological imperative, but because we believe things will get better. Maybe hope -- like those cravings for the sex and red meat that will eventually kill us -- is hard-wired into our DNA. Or maybe, more so than anything, hopelessness is the ideological equivalent of legwarmers or the Segway: ostensibly modern, ultimately useless.

Since we're glass half-full people, we asked 20 subjects, What gives you hope? This is what they had to say:

• Patton Oswalt, actor, Ratatouille
• James Cartwright, commander, Navy SEALS
• Yellow Hawk, homeless man
• Sean Carman, attorney, Department of Justice
• Amy Sedaris, writer; actress, Shrek the Third
• Dr. Sylvia Lucas, neurologist and multiple sclerosis researcher
• Brad Listi, novelist, Attention.Deficit.Disorder
• John Roderick, guitarist, The Long Winters
• Ron Jeremy, porn star, All I Want for Christmas Is a Gangbang
• Will Napier, seven-year-old
• Kate Izquierdo, music critic, San Francisco Bay Guardian
• Randal Gage, television news executive, KOCO Channel 5
• Mistress Matisse, professional dominatrix
• Mary Rouvelas, attorney, American Cancer Society
• Kathleen Bresnahan, night-shift hostess, Denny's
• John Vanderslice, singer/songwriter, Emerald City, Pixel Revolt
• George Langley, actor, Enemy of the People
• Arthur Bradford, author; director, Dogwalker, How's Your News?
• Barfly, singer, Saturday Knights
• Sam Arefi, clerk, Union 76 gas station and food mart
(...)

“The Constitution of the United States. It's still the best document of its kind, and written into it are exactly the kind of protections that ensure that no person or group of persons, no matter how diabolical or insane, can hijack the country for much longer than a decade”
-- John Roderick, guitarist, The Long Winters

(...)
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