Issue #178 / December 2021
Do you have hope?
ANNA, HAMBURG, GERMANY
Are you an optimist?
RAYMOND, DALLAS, USA
What does Christmas mean to you?
GREG, SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
Dear Anna, Raymond and Greg,
Hope and optimism can be different, almost opposing, forces. Hope rises out of known suffering and is the defiant and dissenting spark that refuses to be extinguished. Optimism, on the other hand, can be the denial of that suffering, a fear of facing the darkness, a lack of awareness, a kind of blindness to the actual. Hope is wised-up and disobedient. Optimism can be fearful and false. However, there exists another form of optimism, a kind of radical optimism. This optimism has experienced the suffering of the world, believes in the insubordinate nature of hope and is forever at war with banal pessimism, cynicism and nihilism.
As we move into Christmas, the image of Jesus in the manger — what Yeats calls the ‘uncontrollable mystery on the bestial floor’ — is that hope and that radical optimism incarnate.
I want to thank everyone who has supported The Red Hand Files through this difficult year. This week has seen our 50,000th question and each and every one fills me with that very hope and radical optimism. Have a peaceful and blessed Christmas and may all your dreams — those points of momentary light — come true in the New Year. See you then.