In search of Hope in London

The big city is pretty funny. There’s so much reason to hope, but I’m just not seeing it. I sit on the bus and look at the people around me. They don’t look hopeful. They don’t look hopeless, either, they just look. They look at the books they’re reading, they look at their phones, they look out the window. They avoid looking at each other as much as possible.

I go to the supermarket and see people throwing themselves into their pre-Christmas shopping. They load up shopping carts with countless cans of coke or kilos upon kilos of meat. They look determined and rushed. I probably have that same look on my face, because supermarkets can spark a light crowd-phobia in me and I just want to get out of there as quickly as possible!

Everyone is in a rush, and everyone’s greatest hope seems to be to arrive at their next destination with as little disruption as possible.

Then, today, I came across this painting, titled “Hope”, on Facebook:

“Hope” by painter Mohannad Hamawi

The little boy is looking out on a sun in the shape of the country of Syria. And I thought, had this boy born ten years earlier, he may not have known such hope as he does today. Because his life would have been predictable. He would have been worrying about the little things that little boys worry about: the well-being of the local stray cat, or whether his mother would let him eat sweets after dinner. Today his thoughts are on the survival of his family, the future existence of the small world he knows. He hopes big.

There is certainly hope in London, much to hope for. But we so easily forget it. Our hopes are small because we have the privilege of hoping small. We can invest emotional energy in hoping that we will get a seat on the train during our evening commute and in hoping that there will be a big sale on iPhones sometime soon. These are perfectly legitimate hopes and I myself indulge frequently in such hopes.

But I’ve grown so accustomed to looking for the hope of the little boy in the painting that I am having to discipline myself to find the deep, longing hope on the face of the mother quickly pushing her pram across the park to avoid the oncoming rain.

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