One of the most pernicious false gods that we cling to here in the new Rome is the illusion of control. But even here, we have no control over the time in which we live, and often no control over the events that mark our lives.
Nevertheless, we are given the choice of how we shall live in the time we are given and how we shall respond to the events that mark our time.
Most of us have very little control over the institutions where we work or go to school, we have no control over our family of origin, but we can choose how we respond to the stresses of our jobs or school life or family life. It is often overwhelmingly tempting to respond to work or school or family with cynicism.
In fact, it is often hip, stylish and celebrated to be cynical. Sometimes it’s fun, and it can often be genuinely funny – think Seinfeld for a moment. And in this city in particular, it is often expected and it is certainly easy to turn to cynicism.
But cynicism is not a faithful response to the world. We are called to a stewardship of attitude.
This is not a call to naiveté, or to Pollyanna-ish living. Critical engagement with the world is crucial. But when life places before you hopelessness and hope, faith demands that we choose hope.
That may just be the most difficult choice we are ever called to make. Choosing hope requires taking responsibility. Abandoning hope lets us off the hook. At the same time, choosing hope requires that we trust others. Abandoning hope allows us to slip into a splendid isolation where we can wallow in hip, detached despair or sink into genuine depression. Choosing hope draws us deeply into the messiness of real life and real community. Abandoning hope allows us to dwell in dark fantasy.