My post for Christmas dealt with hope and possibility, so I figured I would expand on that idea going into the New Year, that is people wanting hope. Occasionally, I get into debates with people on works of literature. One day someone brought up Dante’s Inferno. I have no idea what led to Dante being the subject of debate but as most things in life it came out of the blue. I don’t really care what it means to be perfectly honest as this post isn’t a doctorial thesis on the works of Dante. Art is subject to interpretation and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
Having got my disclaimer out of the way, there two ideals that Dante touched on that for me personally were in some respects I believe right on the mark. I’m only going to address one of them here and that idea is the inscription on the gates of hell. I don’t know why that inscription came out of the dark recesses of my mind that day, but it did.
During my conversation I was making a joke to the people I was talking to. I don’t remember what lead me to say it. The people were saying something about the nine to five grind, really never getting anywhere. They weren’t upset or mad, just complacent in the fact that life in a way was not what they thought. I basically blurted out in laughter that maybe the inscription over the gates of Hell should be written above every door to a corporate office, because most people go there wanting hope but never find it. Probably, because deep down inside of me, for reasons I don’t understand, Corporate America for some reason exudes a sense of hopelessness. The inscription on the gates for those who haven’t read the Inferno or who don’t know the inscription, reads “All hope abandon ye who enter here”.
Once the words came out of my mouth a light bulb went off. I realized Dante wasn’t referencing a place that the horrible, horrendous people who lived will be able to attend together, like a real fraternity for bad boys. He instead was referencing a human condition. As I thought more on my revelation, I considered he may have been referencing what happens when people lose hope. He was taking a step not only into the human psyche but also describing the types of people and their actions. He drew up a blueprint for a sure fire way to live in Hell, literally. If I had to guess it was probably so we would know what to look for and what to stay away from, unless of course someone wanted to go there and you decided he had created an instructional list depending on how “low” you wanted to go.
Once you walk through the gates, you cross a line emotionally into a place where you are hopeless, you enter a new human condition that can only be described as the worst place a human can be. There is nothing worse for man than lack of purpose and belief. Without hope and purpose we have a hole in our soul that cannot be filled. Hell is a void that people fall prisoner to. The further you fall into despair, the deeper you go into what Dante refers to as hell. Each step lower on the rung is a little worse than the one above.
The Deviant view on Hell and Wanting Hope
We can easily cross a line into a state of being hopeless when we give people too much control over our lives. These are people in this world that we should not be so quick to give unlimited control over our daily lives. When every waking minute of your life is being impacted by someone or something that you have no recourse to counter act, chances are you will unknowingly slide into a state of hopelessness, wanting hope more, without even realizing it. If we allow others to take too much to a point where we cannot get out from under their weight, we begin to suffocate until slowly our belief system fades from existence.
Wanting Hope is a purposeful and needed function of the human condition. It provides creativity, imagination and belief in something. I believe so many of the issues plaguing contemporary society can be tied to the lack of hope. Addictions, mental illness and violence are all tied back to lack of hope. If we were to compare a prisoner who has no hope of ever getting out and will continue on a path of violence and disobedience, we can certainly see where people in society find themselves in situations where it would appear on the surface there is no hope of ever getting out. Much like a prisoner in jail who committed a crime, we tend to put ourselves in situations where we make decisions that put ourselves in a type of hopeless personal prison, no matter the intentions that got us there.
The New Year is upon us and we as people need to hold onto hope. We should all view The Inferno as a warning to human kind. We shouldn’t fear going to hell when we are dead, we should fear living in it while we are alive. We should not leave out live wanting hope and never have found it.
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