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  • David Downs

Dum Spiro Spero Will Either Hurt You or Help You


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 forever 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



The Darkest of Days

During the second world war, a certain demographic in Germany was told that although they are currently living in squalid, enforced conditions, they will all be relocated to a land flowing with milk and honey, where children can run around free, with circuses, clowns, and all manner of wonderful treats.


These hopeful people would willingly get into wagons to go off to this Utopia, only to find the hope ripped away from them as they huddled in chambers in an encampment called Auschwitz. The Germans had a great concept of hope, that it was 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.


Children Bring Us Hope

Why do people say that there is no way they would bring a child into a world such as ours due to its corruption, hatred, war, disease, only to see them a few years later, pushing a buggy around with a gorgeous child smiling innocently? Did they merely conceive and start raising a family because they couldn’t keep their legs closed, or had they somewhere along the line realise that there is a future for humankind, and 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.


Even If You Have Nothing, You Can Have Hope

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 who came before me; the more I hope, the more I am vulnerable to being let down when 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, and even during dark times, I have peered through the veil and seen what might be should I keep breathing. Why have I fed myself, dressed, written so many articles, if 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. Despite pandemics and lockdowns, we still work in the rat race, a hard means to an end to many of us. For me, I push myself to sit in front of my PC and write – erm, muse. I put food on my table, I put beer in my glass and I laugh.


Count Your Blessings

All these are a far cry from days when I was wrapped in 3 jumpers, 2 shirts, a vest with a donkey jacket and scarf, all tucked into an old army sleeping bag in a cold warehouse behind the Co-op. I wouldn’t know where my next meal was from, I wouldn’t know if I would get the faeces kicked out of me while asleep. The only form of hope I had then was a chemically induced one from little tissue tabs with acid dripped on onto it. They were sorry times, but I am glad that I had a moment of inspiration standing on the top of Bentalls one day when I told myself that knowing my luck, my world could change for the better 5 minutes around the corner.


It literally did, and since then, dum spiro spero.



Find 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 rose that blossoms is sweeter than any Shakespeare could lyrically wax over.