‘Power to the People!’
Wolfie Smith would shout that at the start of his hilarious sitcom from the late 1970s, ‘Citizen Smith’.
Even at such a young age, this was one of my favourite shows of all time. Wolfie was a Marxist revolutionary who happened to love the mighty Fulham Football Club.
Not being that big a fan of football, I had no real drive to support any team in particular. I could have been a sheep and followed one of the big teams of the time. A team like Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United. Wow, it seems little has changed in all these years! Well, I decided that if I HAD to choose a team, it would be Fulham, like my then hero, Wolfie.
The trouble was, although Fulham had been in the FA Cup Final in 1975, they had lost, and were only in the 2nd tier of English football. They were stuck there throughout the series of Citizen Smith until at last, in 1980, they dropped to the 3rd tier. You can see that Fulham was pretty much a labour of love, rather than following them from success to success.
As time went on, they would drift to the bottom division, almost leaving the football league in 1996.
Where is this all leading us? You’re not a fan of football but you sure are making this sound like it's all about a very bottom rate football team.
I agree this does sound ‘footie’ orientated. But imagine the emotions someone goes through when they see their mates celebrating! These other guys all ride high as their teams win leagues, trophies, appear on 'Match of the Day'.
It takes a lot of faith, love, passion, to support a team like that in those days. You could only dream of them being in top tier football, cup finals, on the television. Yes, supporting your Liverpool and Chelsea, it’s so easy to feel pride and elation. Try having a vision for the struggling teams, THAT is true hope.
Hope: That Really Sucks
It’s true, even Nietzsche said so.
Pandora brought the box of ills and opened it. It was the gift of the gods to men, outwardly a beautiful and seductive gift, and called the Casket of Happiness. Out of it flew all the evils, living winged creatures, thence they now circulate and do men injury day and night. One single evil had not yet escaped from the box, and by the will of Zeus Pandora closed the lid and it remained within. Now for ever man has the casket of happiness in his house and thinks he holds a great treasure; it is at his disposal, he stretches out his hand for it whenever he desires; for he does not know the box which Pandora brought was the casket of evil, and he believes the ill which remains within to be the greatest blessing, it is hope. Zeus did not wish man, however much he might be tormented by the other evils, to fling away his life, but to go on letting himself be tormented again and again. Therefore he gives Man hope,- in reality, it is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of Man.
Friedrich Nietzsche, Menschliches, Allzumenschliches – 1878
As it happens, today (August 25th is the day I’m writing this) marks the 120th anniversary of his death. I was obviously destined to include this guy in today’s writing.
While on the theme of Germans, think about a far off world, during the second world war. A certain demographic in Germany was told that although they were currently living in squalid, enforced conditions, they would all be relocated to a land flowing with milk and honey. A land where children can run around free. A land with circuses, clowns, and all manner of wonderful treats.
It was told that these hopeful people willingly got into wagons to go off to this Utopia. Their hope was then ripped away from them as they huddled into chambers Auschwitz. The Germans had used the concept of hope as a sure-fire way to utterly destroy someone’s soul before destroying their bodies. And let’s face it, when we lose hope, I mean the genuine, authentic deal, all life might as well be lost.
Why do people say that there is no way they could bring a child into a world like ours? A world with corruption, hatred, war, disease. Then you see them a few years later, pushing a buggy around with a gorgeous child smiling innocently? Did they somewhere along the line realise that there is a future for humankind? Now they wanted their gene pool to be a part of it?
‘Hope you have a good birthday’. It’s not hope; it’s a platitude.
‘I hope I have a roof over my head tonight’. If you have a job and a home, that is a silly thing to hope for; you already have them. But if you are one of the many thousands living on the streets in our worrying economic state, this is very real hope. Hope is confidence in what we yearn for and assurance about what we do not see. Excuse my slant on Hebrews 11:1, but it reflects what I say. It isn’t wishful thinking, but a feeling of real anticipation of things to come.
Pandora released all the evils over the world, and yet all that remained in her box was hope. Even the Greeks knew that hope was evil; why else would she have been in the box of holocausts? I defy those pesky Greek writers. Indeed, the more I hope, the more I am vulnerable to being let down. Yes, that very real anticipation turns to dust, but if I had no hope, I’d stay in bed all day and wither away.
It is true what Cicero said, ‘Dum spiro spero’, while I breathe, I hope. This line has kept my head above water throughout my entire life. I am the eternal optimist. I joyfully peer through the veil and see what might be if I keep breathing. Why have I fed myself, dressed, written so many articles? I had not the hope to more than survive, but to truly live. You don’t only live once, you die once, but have many lives to lead (source unknown, sorry).
This morning, I got up, smiled across the bedroom, and proceeded to get myself dressed and ready for work. I work in the rat-race, a hard means to an end, before sitting in front of my PC and writing – erm, musing. I put food on my table, I put beer in my glass and I laugh.
What Does This All Mean?
So Fulham almost fell off the English football map. I still supported them. As did the 300 other die-hard Fulham fans!
What happened in 1997 was nothing short of a miracle to us 300. ‘WE ARE FULHAM!’ Al Fayed bought the team, he put people like Keegan in charge and everything changed. We would watch victory after victory. We began to see promotion after promotion. Finally, we did it, and 1999 saw us make it into the Premier League after 31 years! Fulham even managed to get a European final, though didn’t actually win it.
It’s still been a bit wobbly, we’ve faced relegation and promotion a couple of times. But at least it makes it more exciting, and we keep getting our hope tested.
Go In Hope
Find your hope. Let it fill your mind, your heart, your soul, and it will consume your world. You might get a few thorns, but the blossoming rose is sweeter than any Shakespeare could lyrically wax over.