Where Do We Find Hope?

Nov 29 2004

Leonardo Boff

It is likely that President Bush’s election victory and Condoleezza Rice’s appointment as Secretary of State have caused great consternation to millions of people throughout the world. How is it possible that the majority of voters ratified the Bush/Cheney political line that meets violence with more violence and promises to intervene when the interests of the United States are involved anywhere in the world? It is the supreme arrogance of an empire that for the first time has truly global ambitions. Contemporary history teaches, however, that no empire lasts a thousand years. That is a Nazi dream. Nor do empires last a century. That is the stuff of ultra conservatives, who are as power thirsty as they are short sighted. All empires are brought down, not by another more powerful empire but by the yearning for freedom of its citizens and the sense of dignity of the people, which are stronger than the domination.

But let us not forget Brazil. Defeats in some recent elections disappointed many. Those defeats represent the people’s answer to the level of social inequity produced by the economic team’s macro-economy. True, exportations grew, but unemployment and the impoverishment of the people also grew, in part due to the primary surplus, to levels worse than Ethiopia, according to those who know the two countries.

Honestly and with great distress we ask ourselves: What can we do with this world, here and abroad? Where do we find hope?

Personally I believe that this hope cannot come from the same sources that are destroying hope. Plenty of it was placed in some political parties of popular extraction and in their charismatic leaders who achieved power. Instead of working for the promised changes, however, they became hostages of the system’s logic with the excuse that we must avoid by all means systemic chaos. As it happens, social chaos is already in place, and it worsens day by day. Either the economy is to overcome social chaos, or it is a perverse form of continuing the victimization of the poor at the altar of god Mammon. No society with a minimum of ethics can accept this perversity. Nothing can be expected from this macroeconomic politics subservient to the markets.

Are we going to find hope in religions and in Churches, because, as Ernst Bloch said with reason, “Where there is religion, there is hope”? In fact, for the truly poor, the Churches become their refuge, the place where they find some hope, even though it may be filled with out of the world beliefs, alienated from the historical processes and compromises with social change. But even in that hope they find some reason for life. Regrettably, to many of these Churches the Spanish saying applies: “Between God and money, the second is first.”

The source of hope resides in the victims themselves. Hope is the only thing the victims have: hope that, no matter how adverse reality is, something good will come of it. That hope against all hope carries the fundamental utopia that one day everybody will have something to eat, everybody will have a home, everybody will be able to see the doctor and enjoy good health, all the children will go to school… The hope that we will drink a beer with our friends on Friday afternoons and, perhaps, a retirement check may bring tranquility to our old age. And finally, this is what the poor think: that humanity can be a family, living all together in planet Earth as brothers and sisters. (Neither Bush nor Blair, and least of all our power and social elites think like that.)

Are not the poor those who remind us that, “Hope is the last thing to die”?

Leonardo Boff

Free translation from the Spanish, sent by
mj.gm@voila.fr, alfaromelina@yahoo.es and
bolivar@topica.email-publisher.com, done at

“Other News” is a personal initiative seeking to provide information that should be in the media but is not, because of commercial criteria. It welcomes contributions from everybody. Work areas include information on global issues, north-south relations, gobernability of globalization. The “Other News” motto is a phrase which appeared on the wall of Barcelona’s old Customs Office, at the beginning of 2003:â€?What walls utter, media keeps silentâ€?. Roberto Savio

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