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Editorial Reflections

Hope comes through contributing to solutions to problems

“We can only hope,” a comment heard during coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing, shooting and manhunt has triggered thoughts on hope and hopelessness.

We were pretty well wrung out during that period, finding it almost impossible to turn off the radio or television. We—and the media—were caught in a vicious cycle.

Much of what we heard wasn’t news, but announcements that news was probably about to happen.  We didn’t dare pull away from the coverage because something always seemed ready to happen. 

The radio and TV networks couldn’t go back to regular programming for the same reason: the police or the FBI announced there would be a news conference soon, the President would be speaking soon, there was heightened activity in some office or building that led to speculation something actually had happened.  Except for the gravity of the situation, it was like being trapped in an absurdist drama.

The speaker expressed what seemed to be a vapid opinion, given the situation, that “We can only hope” that something can be done about our country’s problem with violence.

It is unreasonable to expect anyone to be profound in such a situation, but “We can only hope” seemed to be only a small step  from wishful thinking.

Hope is necessary.  Otherwise, we are likely to be paralyzed by the enormity and complexity of the problems we face.  Hoping alone hardly seems adequate, however. If we hadn’t realized it before, Boston has shown us that there are no neat segments that we can deal with in an orderly fashion.

The first line of a hymn by David Beebe and Emma Lou Diemer encourages us: “Let us hope when hope seems hopeless.”

Theologically—and capitalized—“Hope” as a virtue, is defined in my dictionary, as “the desire and search for a future good, difficult but not impossible to attain with God’s help.”

It’ll be a long, slow, messy slog, and the hope we need is not a squishy variety. 

The Faith Action Network of Washington has taken a position on gun safety and you may sign their petition at their website:   The petition contains seven measures they have endorsed.  It’s highly doubtful that all of them could be passed at once.  In fact, it might contribute to better discussions to have them considered individually.  Pick one and start.

Western states have high gun ownership rates and the statistics that go with them.

In Oregon, where I now live, half the adult population own guns.

The Oregonian newspaper started an occasional series shortly after the Clackamas Town Center shooting near Portland and the Newtown school shooting, to explore attitudes about guns across the state.

The most recent of these tells a story of a woman who had helped a family friend after the friend’s son was killed while playing with a gun. 

Over the years she has remembered that family whenever she has heard of a child being shot, but she has not participated in a gun control group.  Recent events have influenced her to become active, and she told the reporter, “I have made a transformation from a gun control advocate who didn’t do anything to a gun control activist, and I feel I am going to be a gun control activist for the rest of my life.  This is a complex issue filled with passionate emotions.  We will never get rid of guns or gun violence, but we can save lives.”

Her hope that she can contribute to a solution has been coupled with an active and positive engagement with the problem.

In cases such as these, it’s handy to have the U.S. Capital switchboard number— 202-224-3121—on a sticky note on the splashboard in my kitchen.

By Nancy Minard – Contributing Editor

Copyright © May 2013 - The Fig Tree