In 1959, Thomas Merton wrote:
"We should all feel near to despair in some sense because this semi-despair is the normal form taken by hope in a time like ours. Hope without any sensible or tangible evidence on which to rest. Hope in spite of the sickness that fills us. Hope married to a firm refusal to accept any palliatives or anything that cheats hope by pretending to relieve apparent despair."
The more things change, the more they are the same. But, the other day I went down to Gulfport just to see what I could see. It's a funky little town which preserves some sense of what is possible, even in the face of despair. No high rises, no tearing down the old to build McMansions, lots of charm still. And I find some evidence in such a place for a sensible hope that is not just a palliative to cover over or deaden our despair—there are some people who do still value something other than getting and spending, but persist in just being . . .
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