POEM: Infectious Hope

is a blood-borne pathogen
The seed of martyrs
Inflaming that allergy to
in us all
Infected by a singular epiphany
Of friend and foe
Alike

I see as an irreducible in .  Just like “Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again” (William Cullen Bryant), is rooted in a realm that mere brute force or cannot destroy.  Even in the face of deep despair and generations of disappointment, finds its way into our hearts. rises like an infectious weed, out of of the that rely on to grasp onto . Trying to describe reminds of the description of in the movie in : “Like a sickness and its cure together.”  In this poem I use an analogy and metaphor of hope as an immune response by to . Of course, viewing hope as an antidote or a poison or pathogen can be a matter of .  In the face of objectively crappy situations, hope can be viewed more cynically as Pollyannish. The blood of martyrs can be seen as a tragic waste or as fuel for hope and to . Hopes indefatigable can elicit respect and well…more hope.  While I posit that hope has a quality to it that cannot be banished, perhaps the closest I can get to capturing its essence is the last three lines of this poem where people are “infected” by a singular awareness that friend and foe are one, “alike.”   I see hope emerging and growing where this epiphany takes root.  For instance, I consider “ your enemy as yourself” as Christianity’s greatest commandment.  Jesus upgraded the Old Testament’s “ your neighbor” with this greatest of challenges:

 “You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in . He causes his sun to rise on the and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV)

This is the greatest genius that I have ever seen!  This strikes me as the most straightforward and simple way to encapsulate one of the most basic tensions in life: balancing self-interest with others’ interests.  By explicitly linking these two, Jesus harnesses, leverages, and even redeems, the powerfully dangerous psychological dynamics of egocentricity and selfishness.  No doubt, the trinity of hope, , and love is called upon to dare confront such a powerful challenge.  Of course, the genius and of this formulation doesn’t make it easy.  Though in it I find much hope, even infectious hope! 

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