In a preview of her interview with Oprah Winfrey which airs on December 19th, Michelle Obama told Oprah something to the effect that hope is gone. To suggest such a thing to people who are terrified about the future serves no good purpose. Particularly since it isn’t true. Hope is never gone. To suggest such a thing is irresponsible because it not only makes people feel even more frightened and depressed, it also makes them feel powerless to do anything to effect change, and makes them feel there is no point to do anything to effect change. After all, why try to change things if it truly is hopeless? I believe Michelle Obama is a well-intentioned person, and that her comments reflect her own fear and sense of powerlessness. But, being a thought leader and an inspiration to many, it was not a well thought out statement to make to millions of people. That is something she should have kept to herself. Viktor Frankl, Jewish psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, wrote in his book, “Man’s Search For Meaning” about his struggle to hold onto hope during the three years he was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp while people perished all around him. I would make the case that what we’re going through right now pales in comparison to what he experienced during the Holocaust, and he never gave up hope. And nor should we. Would Michelle Obama have told Viktor Frankl that hope is gone so you may as well just march into the oven and spare yourself any further pain and suffering? Ridiculous. So why would she say such a ridiculous thing? Because she’s afraid. And I understand why she feels afraid. But instead of fanning the flames of fear, and the aggression and impulsivity that goes with it, perhaps she should recall the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” Our fear and our rage won’t resolve the problems our country and our world faces today. They only compound the problem. It is our commitment to Truth, Compassion and
Calm (my personal Holy Trinity) that will get us through these difficult times. Be afraid, if you will. Be very afraid, if you wish. But don’t believe that hope is gone. And don’t give up trying to make our World a peaceful and loving planet for everyone. Channel your fear, your judgment and your rage into non-violent, non -cooperation with evil. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in. This is what enabled Mahatma Gandhi to defeat the British Empire’s stranglehold on India. Hope is never gone.