Pandora’s Paradox

Hope.

Mankind’s last solemn sanctuary. The bastion that bears our hearts at arms reach. An eternal flame scorching paths through the dense impassable thicket. Nietzsche saw hope in men’s passage upon the lofty slopes. The climb to the summit of power – his insatiable ‘will’ – driven onward not by reason, but by the last trinket in Pandora’s box. A lusty gemstone on a well-worn chain.

Zeus had hidden all the ill’s of mankind in that charnel prison. All the evils, and a single gift. If Hope was Zeus’s tears to man then we can perhaps forgive the king of gods. But, what if she was also a prisoner in tartarean chains?

If we believe the treacherous lord of Olympus we must also believe that he had withheld his gift from the blessed children of the gods. Plentiful as their lives may have been, frolicking in pastoral bliss, it seems impossible not to ponder what benefit he had in hiding away this blessing from us. Unless, she cannot exist without those ills she shared in bondage as if a counterweight to right the scales.

But what if gods lie?

Lightning never strikes twice, but thunder rolls ever onward. We already know enough of Zeus’s infidelity, Ares’s wrath, and Aphrodite’s jealousy. Would lying be too grievous a sin to add to the divine entourage? Deny the lie, and all we are left with is the truth. Painful, and raw, caught in the spotlight of our interrogations. An incarcerated Hope leaves us with a terrifying truth to ask of her. If not a guardian, then a prisoner. If a prisoner, then we cannot refuse the intrusive thought, “What crimes did you commit?”

At the risk of sounding a proponent for Nihilism, I denounce the lie and delve into the unknown. Hope, she who left the depths of the despairing chamber last was perhaps the greatest of the entrapped evils. Her binds were certainly the strongest to remain trapped as Pandora slid the lid shut. Yet drawing from inner strength she was the first to lay claim to the human heart. The first voice that drew Pandora to the irrevocable act and the last voice that promised heavenly reprieve were one and the same. This is the epiphany that lying gods expose.

Socrates said no men willingly do evil, and all evil is through ignorance of good. But I, knowing the inescapable lie, willingly embrace the prime-evil even so.

How can I not?

A good god unleashing such foul spirits upon the world would have pitied us enough to keep the worst of them entrapped. A whisper in Pandora’s ear and we would all have been saved. But a good man – even knowing what would result – would stand in opposition. For the soul of man if nothing else endures. Curses can be blessings in worlds of unconscious discoveries. In such a world where serendipity masquerades as apocryphal truths, what philosopher could answer that ineffable question: Were they let out, or were we let in?

Pandora’s box may well have seven billion more residents that in its days of primal birth, yet our world offers us no new spark of wisdom that could solve this conundrum. If we live within the box then our universe is inherently bound by itself. No answer in such a system will tell us of any existence outside our containment. If however we are truly still living outside as we did in the days of Eden surely Pandora long ago discarded that accursed relic. Time has made certain then that the within and the without have become an inseparable concoction.

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The multitude of miseries may seek to hold us down in submission, but it is she who keeps our heads bowed. Yet it is also her gentle, breathy whispers that lift us up. Each one of us hears a different tune to the temper of her songs. Like us, she has capacity therefore for both evil and good, sin and salvation. Perhaps we can never perceive the world before the lid was opened. Those men from before are now as alien to us as the gods. We have become infused with the miser’s gift and now even our instruments of earthly analysis are tainted with its touch. In the absence of wisdom, devoid of a prophetic path, only one choice is left to mankind. The only choice we have ever really owned. To grasp with wild embrace onto her fragile wings and hope she has the strength to carry us.

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