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When confronted with harsh realities, human beings have an inherent nature to do one of two things: bury their heads in the sand and say "it can't be true," or give up hope along the lines of a pessimistic austrian writer who once wrote "A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die."

Grave predictions, uncertain futures, and a feeling of powerlessness can lead people to give up hope. I won't pretend to not understand why someone in Baghdad who has lost their family to american shells and sectarian bullets would want to give up hope. Or why someone in Michigan might sigh as they look back on 2 presidential elections that should have been won, the first that was stolen blatantly and the second that produced an unimaginable result based on what seemed to be an astounding turnout of young and opposition voters, and surrender to institutional structures that they believe will never change. Or how someone, after too long under the screw of an oppressive occupation, could be left so devoid of hope that they would be willing to sacrifice themselves for the purpose of hurting their oppressors. I can understand these people.

But hope should never be abandoned. We as human beings have the capability to be so much more than we allow ourselves to be. I believe that human beings have the capability to forsake anger and hatred, vengence and violence, and overcome any challenge they are presented without having to sacrifice their dignity and morality. This power comes not only from our minds, but from our hearts as well.

A courageous leader once stated that "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." He also pointed out that "History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

Leading scientists and intellectuals often proffer dire predictions and observations, and many of us pass along these statements without pointing out constructive solutions. It is painfully obvious that human beings have an unprecedented capability to destroy, but along with the ability to destroy comes an unprecedented ability to create, to nourish, and to improve.

We must never allow ourselves to become slaves to fear, hopelessness, vengence, or greed. We need not destroy ourselves and our environment to satisfy our primal urges, we have the capability to be so much better than that.

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