Is it better to have false hope or to not have hope at all? Is it better to indulge yourself in the emotion that empowers you or resign yourself to the statistical reality that grounds you? The recently announced decision to cancel graduation for the class of 2021 reveals the disposition of the university’s higher-ups towards the latter choice.
It’s not so much the lack of a graduation that further invites clouds over an already waning sun, but rather the university’s abject insistence on projecting a forecast that predicts nothing but rain, not only in the forthcoming days and weeks but months ahead. Trapped indoors, one of the few escapes remaining to us is the imagined other side: the emergence from the bunker, the physical reunions, the shedding of worries. A fiction for the foreseeable future, no doubt, but who doesn’t love a good fairytale?
Of course, fiction requires a suspension of disbelief, a rejection of reality underwritten by the sole virtue of wanting to reject it. Facts are undoubtedly important in such times, but in a moment when life is shoehorned into figures and graphs, one can’t be blamed for some fanciful fun.
When a bad day ends one can take solace in the fact that tomorrow might — will — be better. This belief is what gets us through, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Hope is the beautiful byproduct of the often ugly uncertainty that the future necessarily is. When such a flame glows on a cold night, we gravitate towards it; it keeps us warm, even if only in our minds; it orients us, even if only by turning our back to the cold. The flame may go out—who knows for how long it will burn; when it finally comes to light the fire it may disappear as quickly as it came. But this does not change the fact that up until that moment it stood up to the dark and the cold, and with it so did we.
The summer is still a long time away. Things are looking up. The university should consider the impact of not merely planning for the worst but preemptively enacting it. Or at the very least, allow the rest of us to imagine that the sun might still come out.
Image: Reuben Fox McClure