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Stephen Gyllenhaal

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Hope Is a Four Letter Word

Posted: 03/19/2012 11:00 am

How does one process what's happened these last two week? Forget about Romney, Obama, super PACs, the sputtering economy. Something else unfolded that I suspect will be noted by historians as ushering in the real paradigms of our incoming millennium. (Millennia are long, so we're still at the very beginning of this one.)

Kony 2012.

From the video's high level of craft; the unprecedented response (nearly 100 million hits); the storm of criticism; the issues of gay bashing; the tawdry melt-down of Jason Russell, its filmmaker and star -- could it get any stranger and confusing?

But isn't the future always strange and confusing...and emotional, and overwhelming, even frightening?

But why an historical moment?

Because of the emergence of hope on a globally deep level, despite the dreadful news that comes at us every day. The video, Kony 2012, was crackling with it, just as in 2008 Obama rode it into the White House.

Hope always seems to be dashed when it hits reality. And so it has happened here with Kony 2012 (and with Obama). But the scope of this hope seems far different from in the past. And isn't it emerging nearly everywhere -- crackling in the Middle East, like it crackled around the stained tents of Occupy Wall Street and was showing its face in the Tea Party movement, not to mention Africa, in Kony 2012? And everywhere this hope has been met with a combination of violence, cynicism, betrayal and/or manipulation from the powers that be.

But hasn't it always been that way?

Because hope is dangerous -- ask Romney trying to corral his party, Obama with his plummeting polls, Mubaruk, wherever he is, Assad with his iPad and tanks. Because this level of hope is saying the future can be far better -- and different. Which means these vacillating, power hungry leaders are in real trouble, including Kony.

Which perhaps is why I cried when I watched Kony 2012 and why nearly 100 million people took a half hour of unprecedented YouTube time to watch the video. Hope. And I know I'm not alone, when I sobbed. And I'm sure I'm not alone, crackling with life and energy, after watching it.

And maybe The Invisible Children is a right wing zealot organization (maybe not), but as a progressive I feel a profound connection to the direction towards which Kony 2012 points. And my father's heart has been (more than a little) broken by how Mister Russell will have to one day explain his perverse actions to his lovely young son. But I believe he was swept up in the tsunami of what hope brings.

You want to make fun of him? He/she who is without sin go ahead -- cast that first stone. I'd suggest an alternative. Be there for him and those that work at Invisible Children, etcetera. Guide them. Bring them into other aspects of this new millennium (gay rights as an example) as they have helped bring us into a part of the future.

The most dangerous thing that could happen to the powers that be and the brutal status quo is that we, the "little people," gather together -- religious right, atheist left and all the people in that vast in-between -- standing up for humanity, learning from each other and helping each other with grace, courage, profound forgiveness and -- yes -- hope.

 
 
 

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