REL 215, Lecture 2: Hope

“Hope is the first step on the road to disapointment”

~Space Marine Unit response, Warhammer  40,000: Dawn of War

Hope is the mother of all goals, the father of all dreams, and the birthplace of ambition. It is what keeps us from depression, what prevents us from giving up entirely. Hope is, for many, the sole reason for life. Why then, do I endorse this rather bleak quote from a game? Because the philosophy it represents is much more than hope, and much more than dreams.

The Imperium in the 41st Millennium is dystopian in an extreme way. Freedom of conscience is less than non-existent. Belonging to any cult other than worship of the Emperor is grounds for interrogation and execution, as well as the execution of your entire family, and, in the case of Chaos worship, your entire city, and possibly most of your planet. This would be the least of your worries, as nightmare creatures abound. Whether Khornate warriors marauding, Orkish hordes on Waaaaugh, or the invading forces of the Tau or Tyranids, death could come at any moment. The future is grim, bloody, and in a constant state of warfare.

The dark nature of this universe is nowhere as clear as in the eyes of the Adeptes Astartes, the Space Marines.  Superhuman warriors, they are drawn from the harshest planets, and trained to perfection. After a life in training conditions that would be certain death for any modern human, the Space Marines are sent to do battle with monsters that can obliterate legions of even these living tanks

In these conditions, there is no time for hope. Hope is an idle activity, and dreams are shattered as quickly as the bones of the fallen.  When could die at any moment, hoping for anything is rarely, if ever, fruitful. To hope is to waste energy on that which you do not, and cannot, have. The Empire needs your mind and your heart here, and now.

What bearing could all this possibly have on today’s world? None. Our existence is not at stake. The fate of the very souls of the human race are not threatened by creatures from beyond our nightmares. We are not fighting a constant, unwinnable battle for our survival. That was merely explanation of the line from a perspective within the relevant story . In our modern world, it has an entirely different, and significantly more positive, interpretation.

The Secret is a recent media and pop culture phenomenon which, in short, is a scam designed to make money on hope and laziness in the population at large. The quick and dirty is that if you think something enough, it will happen. I’ll deal with this in length another time, but for now, it will serve as an excellent basis for my ensuing rant.

The Secret is built on one thing, and one thing only: Hope. Hope, as the topic quote informs us, is an excellent way to set yourself up to be disappointed. If all you do is hope something will happen, you will be let down. Recall Shel Silverstein’s poem: “Thinking you can just ain’t enough.” Hope is a deceptively easy activity, and it can lull us into complacency if we aren’t careful. To achieve our dreams, we must work at them, and to keep us from shattering, we must be willing to accept that we may fail. Excessive hope blinds us to this possibility, and when we fail, as almost all of us will at some point or another, we are broken, and sometimes beyond repair. While hope is what gets us up in the morning, what keeps us going through the day, and what allows us to achieve the soaring heights we are capable of, hope is also, “the first step on the road to disappointment.” Hope for the best, but be able to see with clear eyes and accept defeat. Hope for victory, but be ready to put in sweat, blood, and tears. Nobody ever got anywhere just hoping.



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