Hope and Change, AKA Resentment and Coercion
Both Balthasar and Chesterton make much of the very idea of God-as-child. The former speaks of "the eternal mystery of the childhood of Christ" flowing "into the eternal childhood which is given to men: hope."
For if you think about it, hope is indeed the essence of childhood. Why? A number of reasons, but I was thinking of how children are always changing and growing. They are like little arrows that always point toward their own telos -- which is to say, perfection, or completion, or maturity. I would suggest that America is infused with this idea -- or rather, that the very idea of America is infused with Christian hope in the sense we have just stated.
What I mean is that there is no reason for hope in a static society: things are as they are and will be as they will be because they have always been this way (and this way is decreed by the gods, so it is not for us to change it).
Against the American ideal is the European import of Marxism, which both sees and creates static classes. Sowell touches on this in his indispensable Intellectuals and Race: just as the caste system tethers individuals to their societal place, thus depriving them of hope, multiculturalism seals people into so many boxes of petrified failure. The difference is that the leftist exchanges hope for envy, thus the crude appeals to race, class, sexual preference, etc. In other words, the leftist croctrine of diversity
"tends to freeze people where the accident of birth has placed them. Unlike the caste system, multiculturalism holds out the prospect that, all cultures being equal, one's life chances should be the same -- and that it is society's fault if these chances are not the same." So instead of hope for betterment, the left promotes resentment of the better off, accompanied by a demand for "social justice," which is simply envy with a truncheon.
So, one man's hope is another man's hell. Which, of course, is playing out all over the country today. If only the people who were deluded into voting for Obama in 2008 could exercise a little self-awareness, and appreciate that we are now living in the reality that in 2008 was only a "hope." This is it. This is what happens when Christian -- or at least American -- hope is displaced by Marxist resentment.
Did we see the future in 2008? No, only the present. Obama supporters blinded themselves to the present in order to indulge a fanciful hope that is both anti-American and un-Christian. It makes their world go around -- in a downward spiral.
As Sowell states, "the caste system preaches resignation to one's fate," while "multiculturalism preaches resentment of one's fate." Unlike these, Americanism kicks fate in the nuts and says get outta' my way!
Imagine placing children into unchanging castes; or imagine that we didn't move through school grades, but rather, were assigned one grade for life. The idea is preposterous, but not as preposterous as the left's "war on women" or its crude appeals to racial hatred, fear, and stupidity.
Jesus, of course, makes a point of counseling us to be as children, but surely he doesn't mean this in any pejorative sense -- i.e., to be as naive, credulous, and easily led as a Democrat.
Again, what characterizes the child? Well, for starters, a child is what man uniquely is, in the sense that -- alone among the animals -- he specializes in immaturity because his neoteny never ceases.
To say neoteny is to say neo-nate, which simply means "new birth." Thus, to say that man must be "born again" implies that one must not conflate, say, biological and spiritual birth, in that the former happens just once.
Now a child, just because he is constantly learning and therefore "permanently immature," is not thereby a little nothing. Rather, he is the very symbol of our own eros shot into the heart of the divine center. We are all as children growing toward our proper end.
The psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott once wrote an article on the psychodynamics of shoplifting, suggesting that it wasn't so much motivated by want or by greed, but by hope. That is, in the instant the shoplifter is engaged in his theft, he is temporarily buoyed by the hope that the painful emptiness at the core of his being will be filled. But it never is, so he must repeat the process in a compulsive manner.
More generally, as Boethius wrote, if the mere satisfaction of desire were the cause of happiness, "there is no reason why beasts should not be thought blessed, whose whole intention is bent to supply their corporal wants." By extrapolation, a life of pursuing false hope converts man to an animal.
In any compulsion, there is an existential component of hope; but this is not real hope. Rather, it is merely a defense against hopelessness. Nothing is more deflating than an illusory desire satisfied, because its satisfaction co-arises with hopelessness. In fact, we could say that any compulsion -- and few people are completely free of them -- is simply hopelessness deferred.
For this reason, gratitude is the best revenge -- even a preemptive strike -- against the wily one: "Gratitude is a virtue that allows us, not only to be content with little things -- this is holy childhood -- but also to appreciate or respect little things or big things because they come from God, beginning with the beauty and the gifts of nature; one must be sensitive to the innocence and mystery of the divine works" (Schuon).
But leftist ideology rests upon an ontology which inverts the order of the cosmos, elevating existence over and above essence. In so doing, it essentially sanctifies a perversion, as it instantiates at its very foundation false hope. That is, we all know ahead of time that the fanciful schemes and discredited economic ideas of the left can never "deliver the goods" -- not the material goods and certainly not the spiritual ones.