People in Gaza and in Israel, in Ukraine and also in Irak, have to hope that one day … Some of us are tempted to think there is no hope for them, not for a temporary truce but for genuine mutual tolerance, cohabitation and a lasting peace. We and they need to hope. People in Auschwitz needed to hope. They knew they were about to be gassed but expressed their hope in an eternal life by reciting the “Shema” or the “Our Father”.
We all need to hope. Which is why genuinely endless – life-long – imprisonment is more than cruel and unusual punishment. With no hope of release, such a sentence would indeed make prison a Dantesque Inferno, a Hell on earth : “Despair of hope all ye who enter here !” The lifers resign themselves, if they can, but more often despair, attempt suicide or as in those other prisons, the Concentration camps, replace and transfer their hope to an imagined after-life.
Religion is born of such hope. I would like to hope that at least some believers, especially my Believers on the Brink, realize in time how groundless that hope is. I feel free, ever since I saw through the illusion. I’ve got plenty to hope for still in this, the only life I will ever have. There IS life before death.