Sending hopeless on its way

I fear I feel the sense of hopeless lurking nearby.
I feel it every now and then, scratching at the screens; trying to pick the lock. But I hold it back, shout obscenities at its retreat, while I cling to the vision of people welcoming others, putting arms out and around strangers, and I grab hold of that image to chase hopeless away.
Alas, hopeless got in. It broke down the door and is threatening my safety. I watched a movie last week, “Oranges and Sunshine,” a British film adapted from the book “Empty Cradles” and directed by Jim Loach, which was released in the U.K. in 2011.
The film is a powerful, well-portrayed story of the thousands of British children—more than 150,000 children—loaded onto ships bound for Australia, to solve a problem where government, in the name of caring for those who can’t care for themselves, failed in the most inhumane way imaginable.
And though one woman, social worker Margaret Humphreys (and author of “Empty Cradles”), tried to right the many wrongs, hopeless pulled itself up next to me near the warm fire while I watched; and hopeless snuggled into the rocking chair with me and has burrowed deep.
Beginning in 1912 and for 60 years, the British government took children from broken homes, from poverty, and from strained family circumstances and promised them better lives.
Instead, many of them went on to suffer horrendous abuse and slave labour—and grew up in the absence of identity, with no trace to a family left behind.
For 60 years this went on. Sixty years! Only in 1970 was this practice ceased.
For 60 years, government convinced itself that humanity was inherent in their actions to solve a social problem. They were certain their greatest responsibility of ensuring the safety of Britain’s children could be carried out in this manner.
And Australia let it happen; coercion with cruelty.
How do we lose sight of the responsibility to love one another, to step up and share what we have for the betterment of all?
It’s not just the British who we can point an accusing finger at. It is you and I. It is the many horrors of residential schools, of our missing aboriginal women, of our forsaking of the environment, of our holding our hands up in front of us to say those who have nothing are not welcome here.
It is every time we point to the homeless and the marginalized and say get a job, pick yourself up. We who had benefit of education and a family and opportunity want to protect what we have; want to cloister our resources and keep ourselves safe.
And that is where hopeless finds germination.
How do I beat back hopeless once it has unpacked its suitcases and settled in? I turn to “Generation Y Not.” Four young men who recently gathered in a Montreal subway station and demonstrated love for each other, love for the world—and compelled us all to do the same as they spread their message of love.
Ammar a Muslim born in Egypt, Matt from New York City, and Thomas from Paris stood holding hands and asking for prayers for all those in the world who are under attack while Derin from Turkey was the cameraman.
Travellers disembarking from the subway trains greeted these brave young men and hugged them, and were moved to tears. And that is where hope grows and chases away the fear perpetrated by the few while the many do the right thing and love one another.
That is what encourages us to keep trying.
Hopeless has been sent on its way. Good riddance.
wendistewart@live.ca

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