Hope, the new 4-letter word?

The new face of radical chic

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Reading the New York Sunday Times Arts & Leisure section yesterday I read an article titled, “The Rebel Director, Sincere and Hopeful.”

It’s about Carl Forsman, artistic director of a theatre company that stages only performances that embody hope and humanity. “I’ve thought for a while now that maybe true theatrical rebellion isn’t saying, ‘And then a guy raped a 4-year old and shot his mom,” said Forsman, “that’s not radical anymore because we’re so desensitized. Now I think true rebellion is saying anything optimistic or positive about humanity. Hope is radical.”

Wow, my ears tingled. I made an immediate connection between what he said to what I’m trying to do here — teaching how we can better manage diabetes through positive emotions like joy, courage, confidence, gratefulness, love, hope and pride – rather than the more usual focus on negative emotions – denial, guilt, shame, depression, anger. Wow, maybe the positive landscape I’m trying to paint isn’t squishy or naive or infantile, but radical! Gutsy even and hiply progressive! Cool, I’m a radical hipster!

I’ve wondered these past few weeks getting more aggressive about posting my “thrive” rather than “survive” attitude that you will think I just dropped out of a Kansas cornfield or was born with a silver spoon. Actually neither are true. My Buddhist ‘appreciate everything’ mantra comes from an ordinary middle class upbringing in the Bronx and on Long Island and my extremely shy, formative years when I learned to observe others rather than talk much.

Thankfully, those days are long gone, and while they were lonely and painful, I developed a keen eye for observation, a curiosity for what people really feel deep down, and an empathetic understanding for people’s hardships and hurts. But wait — now I can consider myself a “radical hipster.” Oh, how long I’ve waited!

Perhaps I’m catching a new wave where being positive is gutsy in our overly cynical, negative culture. I do so often feel I’m sticking my neck out against the chorus of nay-sayers who prefer to moan and groan.

Mr. Forsman went on to say, “There’s no question that the cynical viewpoint is viewed as more sophisticated. There’s a real fear, especially among the intelligentsia, of generosity and compassion because they look like the acts of someone who’s naïve.” God knows I live in the land of which he speaks, New York City, where black is our representative color. Now I’m thinking maybe black here is not just a fashion statement but a statement of mind.

So, I am all tingly and excited as a radical diabetes auteur and I will continue to say, adopt an attitude of gratitude, despite your diabetes or because of it — because it can give you a second chance at life — the life you’ve put aside, let remain a dream or run into the ground without really noticing.

Diabetes is your second chance to get fit and healthy and avoid a far worse fate that may be heading your way. Now maybe it will help you to think of yourself as ‘radical’ not ‘Pollyanna’ or ‘compliant;’ to be brave enough to fly in the face of the general public’s and mass media’s mass cynicism.

After all, it’s the people with guts and vision, who moved by their very personal dreams and hopes, end up changing the world.


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