Finding Hope in Times of Despair: New World is Possible

Photograph Source: Gedalya AKA David Gott – CC BY 2.0

“For me, I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.”

– Winston Churchill

We are living in seemingly very dark times. I don’t need to tell you that. You know. We are all living through a pandemic, the likes of which few of us, if any, have ever seen in our lifetimes. The pandemic is being used, moreover, as an occasion for the super-rich and their friends in government to seize what they had yet been unable to steal from the rest of us. The pandemic is hitting African-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans particularly hard, and our rulers seem elated by this fact, and thus willing to let the virus spread as it will. Meanwhile, the threats of nuclear holocaust and global warming continue to threaten our existence. Just to add icing to the cake, we are now being frightened with the prospect of “murder hornets” taking over.

At the same time, the pandemic has forced us indoors, cut off from our friends, family members and the very political comrades who we could join with to take to the streets to protest the horrible injustices we are now witnessing. Truly, these are dire and perilous times.

But in the midst of all of this, I see good things which keep at least a flicker of hope alive in my heart. I hope that you, dear reader, can take some hope from some of these things as well.

First of all, there is no question that the Specter of Communism continues to haunt the world. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of us despaired over what appeared to be the bleak prospects of socialism. Here we are now, witnessing Cuba send her doctors, supplies and even the “wonder drug” it developed (Interferon Alfa-2b), throughout the world to try to fight the pandemic. Even as the US embargo continues to tighten around the neck of Cuba, the Cuban people somehow find it within themselves to continue to engage in heroic acts of solidarity. Cuba has shown us that, even in times of great deprivation, there is much we can do to transform the world for good.

Vietnam, which has had no Covid-19 deaths, has also shown us how a relatively poor country can meet the challenges of the pandemic. Vietnam has compared its defeat over Covid-19 to its victory over France, the US and China, and it is right to do so. Meanwhile, China itself has risen to the occasion, effectively dealing with the pandemic in its own country and then offering help to numerous countries world-wide. And then there is Russia which just sent 5 months of insulin to Venezuela to help its diabetic citizens survive in the face of US sanctions. Of course, Russia is no longer socialist, but I firmly believe that the substantial international solidarity it shows throughout the world is a remnant of its socialist past and the spirit of 1917.

Here in the US, there are also strong signs that the majority of people want a different country and a different world. Thus, a recent poll shows that a whopping 70% of Americans support Medicare of All, a clever name for socialized medicine. In addition, while our government clearly is willing to sacrifice people’s lives on the altar of what it calls “the economy” — what it really means, of course, is the terrifyingly exploitative system which benefits only the few superrich — most Americans do not want to make this tradeoff, instead desiring a continuation of lockdown and social distancing measures in the interest of saving lives. Meanwhile, we have been witnessing incredible acts of social solidarity amongst Americans who have found ways to help the most needy amongst us survive during this time, including with massive food drives which are staving off hunger for millions.

What I see is a country and a world which is mostly good and decent, capable of great acts of kindness and solidarity, and yearning for something better. It is that which gives me hope. Yes, we are up against a lot to create that better world we so desire. But we are in the majority, and we are in the right. We must take hope from this. Indeed, we don’t have the right to despair or to give up, for this would mean ceding this world and our children to the greedy, the cruel and to the stupid. This, we cannot do. It is our duty, therefore, to try to survive, to thrive and to remain hopeful against all odds.

Dan Kovalik teaches International Human Rights at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.  His latest book is No More War: How the West Violates International Law by Using ‘Humanitarian’ Intervention to Advance Economic and Strategic Interests.