“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (unknown first century Jewish writer).
I am finding it difficult to be hopeful these days. For the past five years I have been tracking how the gradual unraveling of the social, economic, and political fabric in Afroeurasia’s boundary lands has been penetrating into the core. The migration of families fleeing regions destabilized by poverty and war to regions flush with bounty from plunder has only accelerated over the last year, as has the resolve of these regions to erect barriers to those fleeing. As our models predicted it would, heightened global conflict has fed an arms industry already producing instruments of death well beyond “expected demand,” which has led to a thriving black market of weapons at bargain basement prices. (Go ahead. Google any weapon you can think of.) Coupled with Citizens United, global arms trade and income inequality means that those most victimized by poverty, poor health, and want are also made dependent on “information” streams designed, packaged and delivered to them by the very individuals and groups responsible for their impoverishment, individuals and groups who have an interest in diverting our attention away from the real cause for our hardship to imaginary beastiaries more fantastic and terrifying than any real-world cause for our concern. Real-world solutions — chiefly the redistribution of efficiencies back down the income hierarchy to the communities and individuals where they were produced — are replaced by Hollywood-style end-of-world fantasies, where peace almost inevitably comes through superior fire power.
Our models are behaving brilliantly. This is precisely the world our models anticipate when you aggregate 90% of the wealth in the pockets of less than 1% of the population. This is precisely how our models predict individuals will behave when they are deprived of health, security, education, and time. So you can understand why I am less than sanguine about the prospects for us getting out of this alive. Substance of hope? Where?
And, then, there is the Castro. What can I say? Although the initial reports of 1M are almost certainly exaggerated, not since the anti-war marches of 2001 have I witnessed so many families gathered in solidarity to express their collective outrage and resolve in the face of inconceivable sorrow and tragedy.
Yes we can. And I know we will. But what we most need is evidence, solid evidence, reason to believe that it can and will be otherwise. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
We gather because this is that evidence, that substance, often lost in our rigorous mathematical modeling; modeling that always assumes (as it must) that tomorrow will look very much like today. Well, tomorrow cannot look like today. Tomorrow must look like the thousands of families gathered in the Castro to mourn the cold-blooded murder of our brothers and sisters and to challenge the doctrines of hatred and fear that motivated this act.
So, what is the substance, the evidence, of hope? Hope is looking down Market Street and not being able to see the edges of the mourners; hope is turning the corner off Market Street and seeing City Hall lit up with all of our colors.
Yes. This is bigger than the GLBTQ+ community. But it came as no surprise to any of those gathered last night that an establishment dedicated to music and dancing, overwhelmingly frequented by Latin members of the GLBTQ+ community, was the target of the largest mass shooting in modern US history.
They hate us. They hate that we dance and love music. They hate that we are in their mosques, their churches, and their temples. They hate that we are a rainbow. They hate that we do not share their hatred. The GLBTQ+ was not incidentally the target of this attack. It stands at the center of what they hate about us.
But this also helps to refine our vision. You cannot mourn Orlando and hate Muslims. You cannot mourn Orlando and offer us “separate but equal” accommodations. You cannot mourn Orlando and ignore the second-class treatment of ethnic and racial minorities and women.
If love drives out fear and hate, the Castro drove out lots of fear and hate last night. I was glad to have joined the vigil. It gave me hope where there is otherwise little reason to hope.