I’ve always been fascinated with ancient myths and legends, not just for their tales of magic and adventure but with each myth comes with it a belief about how we see humanity and human nature. Tales of valor and weakness, people, overcoming challenges and succumbing to temptation highlight these beliefs. These stories really give us insight in the best and worst of us and what we believe humans are ultimately capable of. I’ve been thinking about them a lot recently, but each time I do I seem to always come back to the story of Pandora’s box. The story, for the most part, is meant to explain all the evil and terrible things in the world and why humanity is expected to struggle against these terrible evils. In thinking though, the story shows us something else entirely, the only thing we have to push forward. Without it, we have been lost long ago.
You see, Pandora herself was created by Zeus as recompense for Prometheus giving humanity the power of fire. The gods were angry that humans could wield this awesome power customarily reserved just for the greater beings that Zeus had a box forged and placed within it all the evils that humanity had never known. The like the evils of war, discord, famine, and sickness. Zeus gave this box to his new human creation and sent her out into the world with only one command “Never open the box.” Being human, she was naturally curious, but a while she left the box alone, even at some point burying it in the ground. Day after day, she found herself thinking about the box, “What was inside?” she wondered. That’s when she found herself, overcome with a single desire to uncover this great mystery that was shrouded inside. She unlatched the box and opened it up to discover she set free all these great evils to forever torment humanity. Before all of the evils were released, she slammed closed the box saving humanity from the greatest of these evils, total despair – the opposite of hope.
The reason I like this story so much it that it speaks to this belief we have, that as long as we have hope, not all is lost. I mean sure, I would love not to get sick, or to have arguments, but the one thing that pushes us forward is that belief that things can be better, that a better outcome can come to us if we persist. Sometimes this hope is misleading or causes us to behave naively, but ultimately it allows us to see a future that is better than the past. It allows us to see a tragedy in a new light, to implement change and not accept things as they are. Where there is evil, we have hope, and hope is the catalyst for the change we need to make this world a better place. Without hope, we are nothing.
The reason I keep coming to this story is that I’ve been running a study for my thesis, one I really love and want to work. But pilot study after pilot study, I can’t seem to make my paradigm do what it needs to. Some sort of unpredictable element exists within it, and I simply don’t understand yet what is keeping it from functioning properly. I have hope though, that if I keep trying I will make this work, and have something serious to show for my efforts. Even if I doesn’t, all I learn today will help me for tomorrow, as long as I am persistent enough something will happen. I have hope and that’s what makes make me strong because I have hope I can keep pushing forward into the deep.