The next evening, I watched “The Dark Knight Rises” the most recent Batman movie. In it, the villain Bane uses the hope of the residents of Gotham as a tool of torture against the hero. If people think there’s a way out, they wear themselves out trying. False hope can be disastrous.
The scene was brief, but the idea about the cruelty of hope has stuck with me, especially in light of the horrific theater shootings that occurred in Aurora, Colo. last week.
Terrible things happen in the world every day, I thought, so perhaps doubtfulness really is the best strategy. Sudden disillusionment can be far worse than long-standing pessimism when tragedy occurs, as it inevitably will.
I have always been a little bit cynical and distrustful; maybe that’s why I am in this profession. However, my being a journalist has also informed my doubt and has brought me to realize its limitations. As with all pairs of opposites, so with the space between doubt and faith, between cynicism and hope: The best solution lies somewhere in the middle.
Here in Bountiful, Cory Hanks, Stake President of the LDS Bountiful South Stake, and the other leaders who organized the Stripling Warriors re-enactment started out hopefully. The only way all those warriors could have been organized was through a belief that it could be done.
Doubt was also thrown in the mix, though. The organizers didn’t have faith that the crowd would stay out of the way on its own, so they had volunteers travel the route ahead of the army to push spectators back to the curb. Organizers also doubted that all the teen warriors would behave, so adult captains were positioned throughout the army to ensure order.
In the end, the re-enactment was an extraordinary success, but it wasn’t perfect. The warriors weren’t always marching on the same foot or tapping their staffs on the pavement in perfect unison, as planned.
More alarmingly, one of the warriors collapsed from heat exhaustion at the end of the parade. The young man is fine, partly because his leaders planned for just such an eventuality.
If I were to focus only on the foul-ups, it would be easy to vindicate my pessimistic point of view.
But I would be wrong, as evidenced by the awe of the spectators, the joy on the boys faces as they marched and even the tingle that went up my spine when I heard them shout.
It was truly awesome.
I may never stop believing that too much hope can be dangerous. However, I’m grateful to Bountiful’s Stripling Warriors for reminding me that doubt is best when boxed up in space that’s just big enough to control for safety. Then, we are free to embrace hopefulness and carry on with achieving great things.
If the balance between doubt and hope doesn’t lean heavily toward hope, nothing worthwhile can occur. About that, I do not doubt.