It is the morning after. The sun came up gilding tomorrow with hope or lacing your heart with despair. But what is the difference between hope, wishful thinking, or conversely, despair?
We need to zoom out with a really wide-angle lens.
The bellybutton of our galaxy, the Milky Way, is a black hole hidden from our view by stars and space dust we call Sagittarius. It is a whopper of a black hole that has already swallowed four billion stars while also burping out a bunch of new stars and other gases in a comic version of acid reflux.
The black hole is bad news in our galactic neighborhood because it means Earth will be swallowed up too, some day. (There is a fascinating read about all of this, with a cool video too, in the New York Times titled, “Trolling the Monster in the Heart of the Milky Way”).
The death of Earth may come as hard news to some folks because it also means we are neither the apple of God’s eye nor the center of the universe. Surely that will be called fake newsby some who reject the inevitability of our slipping into the grin of a hungry black hole as just more godless science. But for those who care to live with more self-honestly, there is a recognition that telescopes, physics, and computers have shattered our quaint ideas. Just like all the rest of the rocks and gaseous spheres flying through space at breakneck speed, we too are headed toward that rabbit hole without brakes.
So, does the inevitable demise of the planet and all human life with it, mean that our lives are meaningless? Does the relentless march of time and the certainty of death dissolve hope and feed despair? Yes, if the primary lens through which we see it all is the self, and self-interest.
A theology or worldview constructed upon the assumption that God loves human beings more than all other life, belongs to a mindset formed before Galileo. Only a gelatinous hood of ego could provide such a lens in 2018, when we can see for ourselves the vast expanse of billions and billions of fiery orbs strewn across the endless depths. Meaning and hope that ends at the front stoop of our own little lives is simply too feeble and fragile not to end in despair.
When we are taken up in a whirlwind of political triumph or collapse, and our sense of what is possible has suddenly become a brilliant explosion of imagined choices, or alternatively, thrown us into a wretched mire of awful nothingness, we would do well to widen our lens. Authentic hope and meaning does not reside within the view from within our own egos. It is always bigger, more expansive, and a complicated tangle of choices and inevitabilities that we both appreciate and abhor.
Whichever team or candidate won yesterday, authentic hope does not reside in that outcome. For us to put the finger of our imagination on true hope, rather than wishful thinking, we need to widen our perspective far beyond our own special interests, wants, and desires.