Barbara Ehrenreich on hope

From the February 2007 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

I hate hope. It was hammered into me constantly a few years ago when I was being treated for breast cancer: Think positively! Don’t lose hope! Wear your pink ribbon with pride! A couple of years later, I discovered that the facility where I received my follow-up care was called The Hope Center. Hope? What about a cure? […] I got through my bout of cancer in a state of constant rage, directed chiefly at the constant positivity of American breast-cancer culture. I remain, although not absolutely, certifiably, cancer-free down to the last cell, at least hope-free. Do not mistake this condition for hopelessness, in the beaten or passive sense, or confuse it with unhappiness. The trick, as my teen hero Camus wrote, is to draw strength from the “refusal to hope, and the unyielding evidence of a life without consolation.” To be hope-free is to acknowledge the lion in the tall grass, the tumour in the CAT scan, and to plan one’s moves accordingly.

2 thoughts on “Barbara Ehrenreich on hope

  1. Very intereting quote…. Contrary views are very useful. I watched a couple of videos on TED recently, one about slum dwellings and one about which problems the world chould be dealing with first (climate change, aids, malaria etc), by Bjorn Lomborg. They gave a very different perspective from the ones we see day in day on the news….
    you can watch them here:

  2. Hmmm. Interesting. I thought to be resolute was enough. Sometimes spite works. As in I can give up life to spite it.

    I rather like hope. But personally, I believe in one of my favorite anonymous quotes (I blogged it recently with a collection of others) that goes:

    “You do not greet Death. You punch him in the throat repeatedly as he drags you away.”

    — Anonymous

    That suits me a bit more.

    However, lying in a cardboard box in a lot of snow when I was homeless once, and hadn’t eaten in about a week, and was very ill and not far off from death’s door, I realized that sometimes just simple stubbornness for no reason can be good as well.

    Was a little bird that took shelter out of the ice storm and landed inches from my head. And I thought of a Thoreau poem (Wild Things I think…been so long since I read Thoreau) and the part about a sparrow falling frozen from a bough never having felt sorry for itself.

    Well, I wasn’t feeling sorry for myself…but it made me think that I wasn’t going to let a bird outlast me, lol.

    Like your blog. Interesting insights. Love the various quotes throughout as well.

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