‘As I See It’ with Columnist Jon Huer

  • JON HUER

Published: 9/24/2021 4:01:04 PM

One of the most infectious but cruelest tools of language propaganda in America, most commonly used and most effectively toxic on our mental state, is in the use of a concept called “hope.” As a recent example, the FDA approved an anti-Alzheimer drug (June 2021), with little proven effect, but prohibitive costs to the individual patient and to the national health care system. Why did the FDA approve such an uncertain drug? “To give hope to the patients,” said Max Nisen of Bloomberg.com., “(and) science took a back seat.” With this decision, hope sugarcoats for millions of people what is essentially hopeless.

All “hope” is, by its nature, the mother of all inaction, and exists for the sole result of helping the status quo, the way things currently stand. If everyone lived on hope, things would always remain exactly the same as they have always been. If the Founding Fathers had hoped that King George and the British Parliament would “somehow” change, this Republic would have never seen the light of day. If all the Christians just hoped to go to the Kingdom of God, without any “good works” to facilitate it, no faithful would ever enter heaven, to be sure. If the slaves in the American South had less hope in prayer and more action in revolt, like the Haitians, their freedom would have come much earlier and more in their favor. Obviously, Providence helps those who help themselves with action.

As a general rule, hope is offered to the Masses by the idea-tools of power: Priests, preachers, writers, journalists, government functionaries, teachers, psychologists-psychiatrists, counselors, PR specialists, motivational speakers, and such, who give us a concept, an empty word, to stay inactive. The rich and powerful do not hope; they plan and act on their next moves. The poor hope and pray, while somewhere someone makes the decisions for them.

Hope by definition has no connection to reality. We hope for things that we know we won’t get. If we knew we are going to get it, we wouldn’t need to hope for anything: We would just expect it, such as the sun rising tomorrow, or justice in a just society. We do not hope that our nasty job would suddenly turn into a wonderful one, or our spouse would suddenly change into an adorable one, or our bank account would suddenly show a million-dollar deposit: We expect to continue with our nasty job or an imperfect marriage or an empty bank account for any measurable future. We start hoping only because we know, deep in our hearts, our reality is not subject to change by our hoping.

There are two types of hope: One granted by God, and the other by society. If it is the former type, praying to God is good for the purity of soul that improves the chances of God granting it. It is the one that is manufactured by society we must find alarming and therefore must guard against. In our social reality in America, hope is nothing if it does not have the money (power) to go with it. It is for this reason that “hope,” perhaps as the new Opiate of the Masses, is always sold, like lottery tickets, to the poor and powerless, not to the Super-rich or social elites. (Not surprisingly, religion and hope are now conjoined twins). If hoping would get us anything, we would simply hope for everything, as Hollywood, Disney, or Wall Street would have us believe. If hope could bring us what we want, there would be no misery in this world; we would simply hope our misery away.

We are quite fond of repeating the mantra, “I can do it,” as an antidote to the frustration and obstacles of our reality. (Its fancier word is “empowerment.” For years, Oprah’s main theme was “empowerment for women,” but the only one who ever got empowered was Oprah herself.). Popular psychology encourages us to live with the hope of accomplishing whatever we dream because we “can do it” if we put our mind to it. Obama was elected president on a variant of hope, “Yes, we can!” Could we say that, with Obama’s “hope,” America is a better place today? With Trump’s hope? With Biden’s hope? Who or What is giving us this empty “hope” continually, year after year, election after election, even decade after decade, so that we endure our status quo while hope promises so much for so many without improving one bit of our real life? Should we count the improvement in “reality TV” as part of our improved lives and society?

All important decisions in life and in society are made when the situation is deemed desperate. Deciding to get a divorce, try a different career, go back to school, pursue a new life philosophy, even demand massive social justice, or other such momentous decisions in one’s life, require a desperate perception. Hope takes this sense of desperation away from us. We hope that something good will happen without our desperate decision and action to make it happen. All radical actions, great and small, occur when we feel cornered into hopelessness. The best and brightest propagandists, with the help of TV and Internet, feed us hope so that we never come to that crossroads of desperation and decision.

So, we hope that every bit we do counts for something — as we protest, pray, recycle, do volunteer work or contribute to a cause — and, sadly, we continue to remain hapless victims of America’s very clever and seductive hope campaign.

Jon Huer, columnist for the Recorder and Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland, is the author of “American Paradise,” a book about absurdities in American society, and a Greenfield resident.


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