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Entertainment Is Essential: And So Is Hope

In all of life we undergo a series of moments that vacillate between the distant reaches of Joy and Despair.  Sometimes we seem to bounce back and forth like a table-tennis ball, one half with a painted grin, the other wearing a pout (a smile turned upside down isn't necessarily a frown, when you think about it).  As flipping television channels repeatedly from comedy to drama may leave us dazed and blinking, so might the hectic ping-pong match of Existence if not for the luminous rays of Hope that shine forth out of our deepest darknesses.  Know what I mean?

Those who do not, please line up and sign up for the I-Cannot-Read-Plain-English Class being held next door.

Okay, I fully intended to write this in plain English, yet something happened as usual and it came out like this.  It isn't that I can't write in plain English, it's that my mind bawks at doing so.  I suppose you suppose I mean "balk".  I don't.  If I meant balk I would say balk.  At any rate, whether you understand what I'm saying or not is not really the point here.  Without Hope there would be nothing in life but the highs and the lows.  We need a middle ground.  We need a Pause Button.  We can't just be happy, then sad, then happy again.  We need the chance to crave, to yearn, to aspire.  To reflect and appreciate.  To lift our downcast eyes from the ground before us on occasion and take a look around, find our bearings in a too-often-unbearable world.

At the risk of waxing wishy-washily, allow me to inject a reflection of my own.  A poetic one at that.  This being my Entertainment column, though, I must phrase it in terms befitting the focus:  Aspirations can be thornish when we strive to pick the plumpest berries on the bush, the ones the birds and bugs have missed within the sheltered heart of the shrub.  (What?  Food is entertaining!)  It's like ladling the soup of our desires out of the lower half of our heads (the upper portion being the lid).  Drops are bound to slop onto our noses and chins.  We have to expect some scratches and dribbles before we feast upon our dreams.  No matter.  Wishes are as essential as Entertainment.

Isn't that why rich successful people are often so confused or jaded?  There's nothing to wish for.  They've got it.  First they wanted it.  They had to have it.  They lucked out and attained it.  Now, to a certain extent, they miss not having it.  Unless they always had it.  Which is even worse if they lack a sense of purpose and value!  Of course, this is all pure conjecture on my part since I've never been rich.

I would like to be rich primarily to give money away.  You would think, then, I'd be happy to be poor.  But you see, something happens to the money.  It does something good.  It benefits the world.

That's Hope.

You could say Hope is a power tool.  It enables.  It builds.  It mends.  It resurrects.

Hope does not destroy.  It does not kill or maim or belittle.

Hope is nice to have around.

I am seriously concerned about a future without Hope.  What if we endanger it?  What if we lose it for good and it never ever returns?

I also worry about a future teeming with people devoid of principles.  At what point do we stop being human and become something less, something almost mechanical, stripped down to moving parts and very little substance?  A world of followers of whoever, whatever, is pulling the strings; driven by the same morally bankrupt needs, the same gauntly basic wants and bare bones of necessity as everyone else?

Every action, every step we take Today will affect Tomorrow.  Therefore, in anything we do it is wise to consider the consequences, the potential for disaster.  It isn't a crime to challenge and demand Change.  Nor is it criminal to examine Change from every angle, proceed with caution and test the ground ahead.  Being conservative or liberal doesn't make a person right or wrong.

I have read we are in danger of losing the free internet, that the voice of the individual could be silenced and all media, all communication, controlled by corporations.

I have also read a lot of mean-spirited words hurled back and forth by some of those individual voices — a disturbing trend of venting hostilities online, especially in comments and reviews — so much that it discourages me from meeting and getting to know people, the public, in person.  Or walk down the street.  Perhaps I'm being cynical.  Perhaps they don't sound nearly as harsh out of the cyber dimension.

I have read the internet and social media may shorten attention spans.  I have stated before that I believe, if we are not careful, such factors could lead to the demise of books.

Yet I would like to emphasize (and concede) that some people are using social web-based platforms like blogs and Twitter and networks to accomplish good, even great, things.  They are improving lives, impacting the world in positive ways.

This gives me Hope.  Maybe the internet isn't destroying life as we know it, but enhancing it for the better.

What does not give me hope is the aforementioned tendency to freely trash or bash others.

Some days I am reticent to set my figurative foot online, for fear the networking Circus Maximus arena might abruptly tilt into a hotbed of hotheads in which a person's intentions can be easily misconstrued.  I think for myself; always have, always will.  And I never know when presenting my views or observations may lead to a misunderstanding, intolerance, or indifference.  (I hope nobody misinterprets this or takes it personally.  I'm speaking in general.)

I think it's a shame if we have to keep opinions and statements to ourselves because no one really cares what we think or bothers to discern what we're really saying unless we like and concur with what they're saying.  We should be able to consider all sides of an argument without fearing hostility, to challenge the status quo or majority consensus in order to fully debate an issue.  We should be able to communicate, even if we don't always agree.

It takes a minimum of effort to jump to conclusions.  It requires far more strength to listen and evaluate fairly; to refrain from judging others without sufficient cause.  Forums for discussion should not be turned into battle zones.  The ability to post anonymous comments — or converse at a distance by typing words rather than face to face — should not be wielded as a weapon to denigrate another individual for expressing a different point of view.

Just a thought.

It is important to recognize and respect differences, including perspectives.

Our differences make us who we are.  They give us an identity, along with what we have in common.  We should not deny these differences, whether intrinsic or acquired.  And we should not condemn others who are doing no harm simply for acting or thinking or feeling or looking different from us.

I love differences in culture, language, styles, habitat . . .

I love being different!

I love when people from around the world can come together to share concerns and work in harmony, despite their differences.

This, too, gives me Hope.

The fact that people continue to read and write books gives me a degree of Hope as well.  But what about subsequent generations?  It is essential we keep passing on a regard for the things we cherish, else emotions like bibliophilia could shrivel up and die out with other essential facets of human nature such as compassion and respect and, yes, hope.  What we do now will decide the next future.  It's imperative we hang on to our ideals as tightly as we hang on to our fancy portable devices.

It is the premise of this column that there will always be a need to be entertained, no matter what.  If we must kill idle time amusing ourselves on the latest electronic gizmos via mindless drone-like activities rather than reflecting deeply; absorbing the planet's beauty; listening to or creating music, creating art or literature, being engrossed in a book or movie or quality television program (and no, that is not an oxymoron), let us at least try to reserve time for some of that other stuff too.  While they still exist.  While we still have free thought and choice.  Before we become those machine-like droidish entities linked to and feeding upon those gadgets we are now so infinitely fascinated by (and by we, I mean you probably a lot more than me).

What I am saying, after all, is to not simply nod and experience a surge of fleeting resolve but to actually tear your eyes away from that screen that is sucking your brains out of your skull cell by cell.  Blink and pull back.  Separate from the modern madness awhile.  Find other ways, old-fashioned methods, to stave off boredom.  Invent, explore, enjoy the physical world around you.

I'm not saying the internet is evil or contending that technology should be chucked out the window.  Just don't allow it to replace fundamental forms of Art and Entertainment, physical games and recreation.  Don't let it replace the act of living.  (And I say this to myself as much as to you.)

I persistently Hope that the world can still be all it could and should be, if not for what we've made it.  But I think it's going to take a great deal of effort.

Shall we begin?

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Lori R. Lopez

Rafael Lopez

Noel Lopez