The exploitation of hope

The title for this blog just ‘hit me’ and I had to write this. So I put everything else on hold.

At the outset, I need to say that I have nothing against ‘hope’ in itself. Our society and our achievements are based on aspirations. We had to have some hope and some ‘dream’ to take us forward else we would have died as a species a long time ago. Everybody needs some sort of hope in life to keep them going on this or that issue. But I’m not taking issue with that. I’m talking about exploiting people’s natural tendency to hope. I couldn’t go into every aspect of this because it is so wide and there are numerous examples.

Some so-called inspirational website sends me email updates regularly.  I received one of their newsletters by email and read it. Calm down! I’m not looking for inspiration. I just stay in contact with all sorts – for the hell of it. Look, if I was not a discerning person, I’d have rushed to their site and read up loads of their stuff and think “Ooooh.. how wonderful, I feel more at peace with myself… etc” (for reading their stuff). No – I’m not naming and ‘shaming’ or giving you a link either. It’s a distraction – but you want to see it for yourself. As I said ‘Google is your friend’. But that yearning to read it, is part of the whole thing. In some sense anybody reading this (at least) ‘half-hopes’ that I’m wrong and that I’m just a ‘grumpy old man’ with nothing better to do.

The other side of hope is that, “..actually there are some very good motivational sites out there…and  I don’t need to rubbish them all…” See – I can think like you too! I’ve not even rubbished them all – at all! And I haven’t even gotten to ‘exploitation’.

People in general have the following sorts of hopes:

  1. that their emotional states will improve – because everybody has from niggling anxieties to severe upset about their lives.
  2. most people hope that they can get ‘more’! More anything: time, money, food, love, understanding, fulfilment….etc
  3. that they’ll live a long life and have good health.
  4. that they’ll find ‘the answers’ to – lots of things on their minds.
  5. …..

The list could go on for quite some time, but I don’t have that much time. That’s another one right there: most people want more time to do what they want to do.

So – exploitation at it’s simplest is when a person is taken advantage of. There are various degrees of exploitation. However, I think that it means getting some advantage for one’s self by capitalising on another’s weaknesses, needs, wants or hopes. The ‘cleverest’ form of exploitation is when the exploited person really believes that they’re getting value for time, money or effort invested (either way), but in reality the gains are magnified, dressed up and built on nothing. When people are in some sort of discomfort – anything that soothes may be taken as ‘of value’. How would you like if you went to your doctor for some terrible pain and you were given some painkillers that worked, had you going back for more on a regular basis, the doctor didn’t try to find the root cause, and you ended up dead from some ghastly disease. Surely – by analogy – you would have thought, early on at least, “Good doctor.. he found the right thing to relieve my suffering.

People with ‘hopes’ are like that – they need something. Where there is a need a hope or a yearning, there is room for exploitation. Somebody finds a way to you, makes you feel relieved and the natural thing is to give them credibility.

I’m probably touching on this because of this email tonight – which links up with my experience in some shop a few weeks ago that was selling motivational and spiritual materials (meetings, seminars .. the works). At the time when I was in the shop, I thought to myself, “Hmmm…it seems that people do need guidance.. and if they’re willing to pay for it, then fine.” Well that thought is still true and good but it must be the real thing – not merely emollient, not merely pleasurable to the soul. Pleasure? Is that the root of existence? Hey, I like pleasure too but it’s not the ‘thing’ in life. Yes – and you can disagree too.

There are numerous people, organisations and websites offering ‘hope’. Whatever your need, you just Google it. But I’ve asked myself, “Are these people doing this for free? What’s in it for them? How do they balance the books – the cost of websites, materials they sell, lectures etc?”. Well, I haven’t done a thorough survey of many of these things. But my wish in this post is only to say that – there is a risk of exploitation.

Those in search of the ‘promised land’ –  ‘the truth’ – the ‘right path’ – are at high risk. When they find their ‘guru’ (or similar ‘whatever’), and report back to me in excitement what ‘they said’, I nod and commend them.  But inside I know they’re lost – lost in hope and lost to hope. What do you say to someone whose hopes have been fulfilled? Do you argue with them? Do you tell them to get a grip? No – you nod and agree with them because that’s what they want you to do. It’s the ‘English’ thing to do. You please them – because they want to be pleased.

Knowing the human animal as I do, if I wanted to exploit and capitalise on people’s dreams and hopes, I could be sitting fine on a deck chair on a tropical resort smoking the odd Havanas! But no – I’m stupid you see. I like to play it straight. I’m not interested in your money, your loyalty, your kindness, your worship, your acknowledgement – nothing. So – I exchange the deck chair on the tropical paradise – so as not to exploit your ‘hopes and dreams’. Yes – and I’m bledy proud of meself – as they would say in Eng(uh)land!! Now bugger off!

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