Guest Blogger

The Fear of Hope

Filed By Guest Blogger | April 17, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: 9/11, Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Obama assassination

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Jeff Buppert's work has appeared in Frontiers, Drummer and The Family Business Report, as well as BuzzFlash and on stage at the Powerhouse Theater in Santa Monica; his story on gay adoption will appear in the upcoming anthology series Cup of Comfort, due out this spring.

When the horror of 9/11 happened I was living in Eastern Standard Time. I watched the events of that tragedy unfold live and in living color.

Had I still been living in California, I would have climbed into bed on the night of 9/10, snuggled up to my partner, and fallen asleep like any other night. But when the alarm went off in the morning and the television came on -- that's the way our alarm works, it's in our television -- I would have fumbled for the remote, wiped the sleep out of my eyes, and been greeted by the sights and sounds of a world that had changed.

I was five years old when John F. Kennedy was shot. I have no idea where I was or what I was doing. When Martin Luther King was killed I was almost ten, but I don't remember that either.

It is the images of 9/11 that are seared into my memory, the constant news coverage on which I fed for days, that give me an idea of what people must have felt when JFK and MLK were assassinated. It is these images that fill me with fear in this time of hope.

America has a new president, and for the first time in years we are proud again. The world is embracing us again, welcoming us again. Change has come and we have hope again.

So then why am I so fearful?

My fear is the same one that is in the back of everyone else's mind. That nagging, too-terrible-to-speak-its-name thought that something terrible will happen to Barack Obama. That some nut job will pull a trigger. That in the blink of an eye our joy will be snuffed and our hope will be shattered. That a blood red curtain will come down on our bright new dream.

And in an instant the world as we know it will be changed. Again.

I was thrilled on election night. I jumped up and down like a crazy person, but I only allowed myself to watch Barack Obama's victory speech out of the corner of one eye. I was too afraid. I was afraid that as my charismatic savior greeted the throngs of screaming masses in Grant Park, joyous and renewed and optimistic for our collective futures, that I would see a bullet enter his forehead just as I had seen that second plane enter the World Trade Center. Unexpected. Horrifying. Catastrophic.

Part of me feels that I should never admit to having had such fears, let alone utter them out loud, but they were so real; so painfully, paralyzingly, real. If I couldn't enjoy that first wondrous moment, how can I enjoy the next four years?

We have a president who inspires us, a rock star leader who has people dancing in the streets on every corner of the globe, and yet I'm consumed with the fear that his popularity could kill him -- and the dreams of the world along with him.

I don't remember a time when hope and optimism have ever been so great, but can it last? Is change even possible in this post-9/11 world in which we live? Can the terrorists and the racists and the fanatics, both homegrown and foreign-born, learn to disagree without the need for violence? Can it be that the world is finally ready for peace?

I hope the answer is yes, but I fear the answer is no.

Most people keep their fears to themselves subscribing to the silly notion that if they don't talk about something it either doesn't exist or it will simply go away. I have never been one of those people. Fear, like hope, is real, and I admit to having both.

So the question then becomes, how do I handle my fear?

On election night, to thousands of people on that field in Chicago, to millions listening around the world, and to me, at home in front of my television, with one eye closed and my finger hovering over the off button of my remote, Barack Obama answered that question.

He said, "What we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow." As usual, he was simple and eloquent. His focus was on tomorrow not yesterday, hope not fear.

Maybe with time I can learn to do the same.

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I know I would feel a bit better not reading articles about how all the handgun ammunition is now sold and out in the hands of Americas gun owners. Yep, article just this week about gun shop owners moaning cuz no one has any ammo for sale.

Oops, maybe that didn't help you feel better, it didn't me either.

LOrion - Thanks for your comment.

Yesterday we had a shooting at a hospital here in SoCal, killing three, and during the press conference the hospital's spokeswoman was asked if it could have been prevented. My immediate reaction was: Well, yeah, we could get rid of bullets...I doubt the guy would have come in and bitch slapped his co-workers to death!

Not surprisingly, the spokeswoman didn't go there choosing to talk about the hospital's security instead. Hopefully Mr. Obama's security is better.

Eternal vigilance is not neccessarily a bad thing.
Especially, with some of these "teabaggers" you see on TV. Ya, some of these people would like to see the Obama effect end right now. It is an anathema to them. Fortunately, Obama has the best security in the world, much better than Kennedy or King ever had, or could imagine.

Actually, to be fair, some of the "teabaggers" have some points to make and actually seem logical and dare I say it? Sane. Unfortunately, the sane ones seem to be in the minority. It's probably because their cause is made up by people who don't have their best interests at heart. And also the fact that most of them are bigots. Seen alot of folks of african descent at these rallies? Gee, wonder why that is? Hmmm..

On a more personal note, I always feel kinda a jumpy everytime I manage to get ahead in life. As if someone is going to take it away from me. Even though I earned it, and usually the hard way. And sometimes I am afraid to be successful, I think we all are sometimes, it what keeps us from wanting to be fascists. I will rule the world, maaaw-ha-ha-ha!

However, it doesn't mean you should not have courage and the desire to dream, and to go after that dream. The audacity of hope, indeed. That's why those words worked for so many people. We beleive in hope, even when things seem grim, especially then. It's called survival. It is a mechanism that counteracts our more primitive warlike nature. Something I hope we evolve out of someday. Soon.

If there was ever an audacious bunch it would be queer people. The world tries to wipe us out and what do we do? Have a party! Be ourselves, despite whatever the current worldview has to say about what you are. Now, I don't agree with everyone who is not Hetreosexual or non gender conforming, but I do share the will to be who I am and not be treated unfairly. And I also share the audacity of hope.

Fear can be useful, but don't let it rule you.

It's OK to be afriad, that's healthy, but don't ever let it stop you when you know what's right.

I do agree with Jeff about that feeling of uneasiness, like "oh no, here it comes". I kinda had the same feeling on Nov 4th,2008 when I sat here with my partner and watched Obama speak to all those folks in Grant park. And again on Jan 20th, 2009, moments for the history books. A glimmer of hope after eight years of whatever that was. An oligarcy, perhaps.

So cheer up everyone, the goons of the world don't always win. Every so often the people win, I think now is one of those times. There will be hard times, but there will be good times too and nothing good is ever easy, is it?

Nicely said, Renee. Thank you for the amount of time and thought you put into your eloquent comment.

Yes, fear and hope are both real (dare I say, two halves of the necessary whole??!!), but as you said, the key is not letting ourselves be ruled by the fear; the key is to focus on the good and work on changing the bad. At the end of the day, whether people admit it or not, I think it is hope (not fear) that keeps all of us moving forward.