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Fishman: Hope, anywhere you find it 

Except for the drought (about which we can do little), except for the continued love affair with the tourist industry (not quite as benign or “green” as we once thought), except for the demise of network news (a voice of reason when it wasn’t expected to make money for its owners), except for the relentless and ruthless nature of developers and their thirst to destroy every last inch of green, every tree, every bush, every empty space it can find (money trumps all), except for the Chris Matthewses of the world who can get away with saying -- and I’m paraphrasing -- “Yes, Hillary Clinton could be presidential material but only if she learns to control the shrillness at the end in her voice” (another example of “white, large and in-charge,” a phrase a poet I know likes to use to describe men), except for the tragic loss of journalist David Halberstam (the first to use the word “quagmire,” when he was covering the war in Vietnam, when he was under the age of 30), a sliver of hope seems to be peaking over the horizon and sneaking up on us.

Did I really say that? (Fear not, oh skeptic friends. Behind my back, my fingers are firmly crossed. Wouldn’t want to jinx anything. Wouldn’t want the evil eye to think he or she had any special currency over the situation. If I knew how to make the sign of the cross, I would do that, too.)

But, I ask you, are not the New York Yankees -- with a payroll that exceeds a handful of other organizations combined -- firmly ensconced in last place? 

Do we not have glucosomine (with chondroitin), decaffeinated French roast, fair trade coffee, spellcheck, UTube, Jon Stewart, cell phones for instant and inexpensive communication, every newspaper in the world at the end of our fingertips? And for the rest of the news are there not more blogs, more reader reaction sections, more available counter opinions than you could ever read in your lifetime?

Yes, it’s turn-off-your-TV week, but if I did I would not have seen the Columbia City Ballet dance the art of South Carolina’s Jonathan Greene nor heard the voice of Marlena Smalls who founded the Hallelujah Singers and is now interpreting Greene’s artwork.

OK, so we have five banks in the world, three entertainment companies and maybe six insurance companies. Exaggerated numbers, of course. OK, so George Orwell was right. Our privacy is kaput. Big Brother is the Big Winner in the Big Scheme of things. 

Every last word we enter and send on the computer is public information. Forever. Gone are the days when we can keep our social security number (our “social”) to ourselves.

But look at the bright side. How else would we be able to learn what is going on in a teenager’s mind? How else could I receive instant and lengthy accounts, step by step,  from a couple of Parkside friends as they adopted their beautiful new son in Vietnam?

It’s a beautiful word, hope, though I still remember Werner Erhardt’s take on that word. He was cautious. Back in the throes of the human potential movement of the ‘60’s, Erhardt, of EST fame, would make a big deal in spelling out the differences between “hope” and “expect.”

Instead of saying, “I hope to graduate this year,” Erhardt would encourage his legions to say, “I expect  to graduate this year.” Hope, he was famous for preaching, is low-level. Expect is intentional.

But that was before Reagan and Iran-Contra, before Cheney, before Rove, before the neo-cons, before W, before Iraq, before Judith Miller, before a complicit public, a complicit media. These days, with more than just the rabid left exposing the shenanigans of those scoundrels, I’m going to take hope anywhere I can find it.

A few weeks ago it was at the Sentient Bean when a group of students from the Savannah Arts Academy decided on their own to raise money for Darfur. They organized bands, charged an admission fee, sold T-shirts, engaged in dialogue.

A teacher, standing on the fringes, stated the obvious: “They did it all on their own!”

The same week it was in Forsyth Park where so many people trying to recycle their unused paint cans at the Earth Day activities, the line snaked around the block.

This weekend it was in Pittsburgh when a California group calling itself Invisible Children, Inc., organized a “Displace Me” event. For one night, several hundred high school- and college-age kids spent the night in cardboard-constructed tents in a city park to experience what thousands of children living in displacement camps in Northern Uganda’s experience every night.

It was rainy. It was muddy. It was just one night. But they were there. They were there when they could have been somewhere else.

There are good people doing good things. It’s cheesy. It’s cliched. It’s corny. But I’ll take hope anywhere I can find it.
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Jane Fishman

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Connect Today 12.08.2016

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