Reflections of a Rebel – Hope in Colours
January 18, 2020. Another Extinction Rebellion protest as part of the Amsterdam Lights Festival. The Red Rebels were accompanied by the Blue Brigade, followed by a giant Blue Face and a banner with the inscription: “Hoop Verdrinkt ● Actie Begint” (Hope Drowns ● Action Begins). A friend reminded me of the myth of Pandora who opened a jar containing sickness, death and many other unspecified evils which were then released into the world. Though she hastened to close the container, only one thing was left behind – Hope. How are we to interpret the myth? Is hope an evil thing that was withheld from humanity? Or perhaps it is the withholding of hope, of the one thing that could help humanity to deal with the evils of the world, is the ultimate tragedy of the story?
I was contemplating the words on the banner and the nature of Hope, of what it means to be hopeful. In a sense it implies a sort of illusion of protection that shields you from the world; a feeling that once things become really tough there will still be adults in the room to take responsibility and prevent disaster. Anaesthetised by this illusion one spends his days asleep to the harsh circumstances of life. And so, once hope is drowning, the veil of illusion gradually disappears and one is forced to take action.
But something is missing from this interpretation. The negation of hope as a deceptive expectation cannot explain the drive, the pulling motion which taking action bestows upon the activist. This motion is a regenerative force, and as such it restores hope. But it is hope of a different kind, not blind but aware, not looking for the future but rooted in the present, in the eternity of a single moment.
Seeing the Red Rebels and the Blue Brigade marching in procession I think of Kandinsky’s conception of colours: “The unbounded warmth of red has not the irresponsible appeal of yellow, but rings inwardly with a determined and powerful intensity. It glows in itself, maturely, and does not distribute its vigour aimlessly”. On blue he writes “blue is the typical heavenly colour. The ultimate feeling it creates is one of rest. When it sinks almost to black, it echoes a grief that is hardly human."
We are standing at an historical crossroads when nature herself is changing. While Kandinsky’s heavenly blue is rising up like the oceans, the rebellious red within us must be a quiet force, like our beating heart, silently yet relentlessly carrying us forwards, with a regenerated sense of hope.
Photo Credit: Romy Fernandez