One of my favorite Broadway shows growing up was “South Pacific.” When Nellie belted out her soul-defining song “Cockeyed Optimist,” I wanted to jump up and shout “Take That, Life!” But even I would understand by the end of the production that life unfolds as it will, and optimism does not change its course. Hope, real hope, is a thing born out of reality and despair.
Hope is one of the hardest things we can ask of ourselves right now. With all that has happened in the past few years, in the past few days, with violence and chaos seeming to rule instead of safety and civility, how can anyone possibly hope?
There are no simple answers. It is in our nature to lean toward both the positive and negative; sometimes more one than the other. There are times when optimism is simple. There are times when despair is easy. Hope is never simple, never easy. Hope can change the course of events when power and persuasion fail.
As of this writing, Kyiv is still holding out, giving President Zelensky time for a second round of talks, border nations to add their sanctions to those of the EU and the west, and allies of Putin to walk back their support. The defenders of Kyiv have given us, the rest of the world, time. Sometimes that is the best and only thing worth fighting for, time. By the time you read this, the world will have changed. But the lesson of Ukraine will not.