Hopeless In Connecticut

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Of all the sick feelings after the shootings in Connecticut, the one plaguing me the most is hopelessness. I’ve had that lingering feeling for a while now, actually. I feel it toward my fellow Americans, the way a few or even many (Catholics included) think, decide, choose, vote, and act. Of course, few do anything as evil as what this 20-something male did in Connecticut. Nothing compares.

What do you do about something like that? That’s what gives me the hopelessness. It’s helplessness, too. I don’t know what precautions, from gun control, to metal detectors, to arming teachers, to video cameras, to whatever, can stop something like this. I know I’d like to see one thing much simpler, namely, greater parental vigilance. It’s the parents, one would think, who should be the first line of defense in something like this. Mom and dad, is your son stockpiling weapons and acting in an exceedingly bizarre and menacing and foreboding way. If so, could you tell someone?

Could there be some sort of national hotline maybe, a new Amber Alert, to report this kind of suspected, horrific behavior?

I’m not feeling hopeful about my country and my people. I’m convinced that America’s best days are long gone, and you can’t convince me otherwise. In some ways, America—what Lincoln called the “last, best hope”—will be “freer,” and grow in prosperity, but our innocence is gone, and so is much of our goodness.

But, alas, I shouldn’t, as a Catholic and a Christian, feel hopeless. After all, hope is a theological virtue. Like faith and charity, we cannot abandon it. Being a virtue means we must strive for it, which can be hard.

G. K. Chesterton wrote: “Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all.” (Chesterton, Heretics, pp. 124-25)

I couldn’t say it better.

Hope is hard right now. But this is when we need to strive for it even more, especially this time of year, when our only hope—our true last, best hope—entered the world as a helpless baby in a manger.

For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.

Dr. Paul Kengor


Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values. His books include “The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism” and “Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century.”

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  • taer1961

    Find rest, o my soul, in God alone, my HOPE comes from him. Psalm 62:5

  • martha chambers

    Having grown up in the 50’s, when most of TV and many movies appealed to the noble in us, and seeing how the media more and more in frequency and intensity immerse kids and adults in shows and games that appeal to the base in us, I am tempted to feel helpless and hopeless, too. Unless God intervenes, I don’t think we will ever pass legislation to limit the first amendment right to prohibit what amounts to yelling “fire!” in a crowded movie theather, that is, allowing the media to normalize and rationalize violence and selfishness.

  • John Moore

    Paul-Someone wrote a piece after the election that said God created the world to unravel. I believe the unraveling we are experiencing is necessary to lead to a return to dependence on God rather than the iPhone. Maybe it is intended for another great spiritual awakening or maybe it is in preparation for Jesus’ return. I remember the Gospels just prior to advent and their focus on the tribulations we will all experience. I think about our role almost constantly now. My take-no matter if the sky is falling around us, focus on loving others into the Kingdom until the last second. Thank you for ALL of your insightful and thought provoking pieces. John

  • Christy

    Hope is an action. Hope without action is an idea. Hope is really faith in action. If you want to have more hope, do something to bring hope to someone else. If you can think of no one in need, then get some flowers stop at the nursing home, ask at the front desk which person needs a visit and go spend 20 minutes with them. YOU WILL FEEL HOPE! and have given it at the same time.

    My husband took his life. His mental anguish was extreme. The HIPPA law makes getting help for a loved one over the age of 18 impossible unless you can get the court to declare that person totally incompetent. Can you imagine how many episodes have to occur for the court to make such a decision? Parents can know, spouses can know, but there is no getting help with that HIPPA law in place. Doctors are not even allowed to speak diagnosis or treatment or prognosis with parents and spouses. The mental health system is broken. There is either no treatment or no way to get the ill person to consent and no way to place them into treatment involuntarily, above 10 days in a mental hospital. This is not a 10-day fix. Please do not blame the parents. Much of this is medical and genetic. Let’s got off the stigma and political correctness of HIPPA and into CARE and TREATMENT for these folks.
    So I know about hopelessness and I know about hope. The people who helped me–practical action, listening, visiting, being there, brought us HOPE. DO something good for someone else–one concrete action every day –and hope will be born in you and in those you serve.

  • chaco

    It hurts – It Really hurts. I know I’ll never get rid of the hurt entirely, but years of sorting it all out has at least given me a “Tool” to feel like I have a fighting chance; I’ve put this Tool in acronymn form so as to be quick in fighting off discoragement (devil/ evil); Our J.W.T.s – J oys – W orks – T rials , when united with Jesus’ JWTs (Eucharist) create P.O.P. – P assion – O ver – P ain (“…I have overcome the world Jn. 16: 33). This offerring contributes to C.O.G. – C apital – Of – G race (Grace Bank) which helps bring about “…on Earth as it is in Heaven.” I need to be careful though ! It’s easy to replace JWT-POP-COG with W.H.P. – W ealth – H onor (popularity) – P leasure. Like I said; It doesn’t take away all the hurt, but JWT-POP-COG not WHP makes me feel like I have a fighting chance. God Bless our hurting

  • rosebud

    C.O.G.- Capital (bank) Of Grace is articulated by Paul in Col. 1: 24 “I fill up what is yet to be completed (shared in by us) in Christ…” [What would we do without Paul ?]

  • John

    Nothing has summed up my feelings since the election better than this column.

  • chaco

    To quote the english; “By George, I think you’ve got it !” Paul , in Rom. 1: 21-2: 9, expounds on “unraveling” and how God uses it to reveal our baseness & the resulting bane. “It’s darkest just before the dawn.” I intuit a surprise like the falling of the Berlin Wall in regard to the current relativism/ secularism. Rom. 2: 16 speaks of “secrets” in hearts, similar to Lk. 2: 35 that speaks of Mary’s Heart being “pierced” as part of this revealing the sins in our “Heart of Hearts”. It can prick our conscience & cause repentance. “The glass is 1/2 full (not 1/2 empty)” Hang in there- The Holy Spirit is alive & well.

  • Poppiexno

    ,Yes, I am afraid our country is in decline on several fronts. In the civil-political arena it started with Woodrow Wilson, a man who held the Constitution in contempt. It accelrated with Roosevelt, who taught the country that they had rights that the government would satisfy. It picked up speed even more with Johnson’s “war on poverty” and “great society.” The recent appalling reelection of the Son of Lies, a man who not only disdains the Constitution but the country itself, is simply the last link in the chain to deny our liberty.

    The decline on the cultural front has been extraordinary. While many past artists (painters, musicians, poets and novelists) wanted to express their unique individuality, for the most part they did so in a broader context of edifying their audience. Today, the goal of many artists across all genres is to shock or titillate. So we have a Madonna with dung and a crucifix in urine, to cite only two notorious examples.

    Morally? Illegitimate children, “gay” rights, pornography, and above all abortion. I have read that about half of self identified Catholics and Evangelicals voted for Obama. That is stunning.

    We have, like the Israelites of old, gone astray and we are reaping as we sowed.

  • rosebud

    You dish up a heaping helping of truth, but I think it could use a little dab of Hope; Yes, we have confused Liberty with unbridled freedom to act on any impulse that comes along (see Gal. 5: 13). I feel that many have seen how this does not satisfy
    & are taking another look at the need to justify ones behavior by showing how it contributes to “The Common Good”. Liberty means we are free to do what’s right, and even though debating & discerning “the right” takes a little longer than “Do whatever you Feel like”, one must show evidence of their contributing to “The Good” in order to be credible.