What is wrong with hope? We know that in an impossible situation where the outcome is unknowable, hope can keep us in that situation long enough to triumph or despair. The problem comes when hope is not accompanied by action. When things look hopeless, we either give up or fight on with everything we have. When we are given false hope, assurances that all will be well, despite the looming crisis, we either relax in the happy notion that it will work out, or we fight on, but not with everything we have, rather with the idea that fate or miracles will save us.
It seems that the past few years in America, we have operated on the false hope that the federal government has the ability to control economic and world events. Our hopes were elevated after 9/11 by the war on terrorism, including military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. The results have been weak to poor. We have burdened the future taxpayers with four to six TRILLION dollars of future obligations, and for what?
We have exhausted our volunteer military with short turnarounds and multiple tours. We have aggravated and elevated the importance of the leaders and citizens of the region with our misunderstandings, ignorance, and arrogance. No one has ever been able to extract the minds of the people from the secular feuds, endemic poverty, and warlord mentality since before the birth of Christ.
Everyone else on the planet sees our hubris and disrespect for other cultures, yet we continue our Crusades.
What if we had recognized the damage and pain inflicted on our national psyche by the 9/11 attacks? What if we had reconsidered our smug attitudes toward the rest of the world? What if we had just revised our approach of insisting that democracy is the best form of governance for everyone regardless of their history, culture, economy, and philosophy?
Instead, we embarked on a path of attack and appeasement. We attacked anyone who remotely seemed to be a threat with no idea what to do and whom to do it with or to. We were ready to believe that the vast expenditures and capabilities of our military could subdue the culprits and liberate the subjects of our perceptions of tyranny. We took no heed of the clear indications that the religious and cultural context these people were born and raised, they see as absolute truth.
What made us think that pouring billions of dollars into the hands of a culture that values corruption and cheating as an art to respect would buy us anything but hate and deceit? Where else have we bought victory or power with our Niagara of free money?
We fooled ourselves that the impact of the attacks on world confidence and finances was easily healed. We proceeded to go on a spending spree of unheard of proportions, borrowing as much as our credit could bear, and more, when politics made buying a home hysterically important and easy for virtually anyone.
Our false hopes led us down a path of self-destructive thinking and acting. In the midst of an unmitigated world financial crisis, governments took on the bad debts of citizens using the creditworthiness of nations. Now that that burden has become untenable, we see financial strategies that verge on desperation and still try to maintain the illusion that the solution is at hand.
I wonder what paths we might have taken without the false notions and optimism on which we proceeded to get where we are today.