Beyond Old Windows: A Teacher's Thoughts Between Centuries

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Forum Home > Do you remember when or why ... > Pandora's Box (or Jar) and what it means...

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I heard the story of Pandora's Box as a child ... I don't remember where or who told the tale ...and I don't remember the ending of the tale as told. Perhaps we were meant to ponder on it.  But I do remember wondering what Hope had done to be locked in the jar with all of the world's evils ... and then I began to wonder, was Hope itself one of the evils? I pondered that for awhile ... as kids, we had a lot of time to ponder, sitting alone on a summer evening just before being called in for bedtime ... or walking along the beach, looking for shells and surf-shaped pebbles that looked like hearts ... pondering came easiest to me in those quiet moments, in those days before boom boxes, and then headphones, and then cell phones ... just the sounds of the waves, occasional passing traffic that echoed the sounds of waves, the cawing and cooing of gulls and pigeons that visited the park and beach and library roof ... ponder-producing moments. What was Hope doing in that box?

As I grew, I listened for Hope's name in the conversations around me ... and heard it often ... and realized in time that it was sometimes confused with the word Faith (though it resonated differently, Faith placing the responsibility for help on Someone Else,) and Prayer (which was definitely more directly active); Hope was too often passively used in place of a request for or an offer of Help ... sad ...Help, of course, involves doing, alone or with others.

As an adult student, I re-read the translations of the greek myth ... a few different translations, with different interpretations ... but what I found applicable to the way the word is used today was the interpretation of the gods belief that Hope was lazy (which is why Hope was still in the box) and that the gods believed that Hope would endlessly perpetuate man's miseries ... man's laziness was attributed to Hope in some translations ... easier to  hope for something than to put effort and planning to reach for achievement ... easiser to offer Hope than to extand a helpful hand ... easier to tell someone not to lose Hope, leaving them to believe that something good might happen if they would just keep hoping for it ... exonerating themselves and one another from actively making something positive happen.

If I were to tell the story of Pandora's Box to a group of students, I would suggest that Hope is a passive evil, and that is why it was in the box of evils ..... That to ask for or offer help is more productive toward gaining a goal than murmuring an offer of Hope  ... that the gods left Hope in the box because to release Hope would lead man to rely on Hope, and become lazy, and not do for himself and others. And I'd ask them not to search Hope out ... let sleeping Hope lie ... and take initiative and action to move forward in their lives, toward their goals. Keeping the faith, trust, responsibility and honor with our family and friends and country is far stronger than simply not losing Hope.

September 26, 2010 at 1:26 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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