This article has been submitted by Kartik Chawla for the CLATGyan Blog Post Writing Competition. If you think this article is a good read, ‘Like’ this article on Facebook (the button is at the bottom of this piece) or post a comment using the ‘comments’ section below.
Greek mythology speaks of a pithos, or jar, which was given to Pandora by her father Zeus on the eve of her marriage, along with strict instructions to never open it. Zeus gave the key to the lock on the jar to Epimetheus, Pandora’s husband.
According to the story, Zeus’ acts weren’t inspired by love for his daughter, but were a part of his machinations, aimed at taking revenge against Epimetheus’ brother Prometheus, who gave the humans the gift of fire without Zeus’ permission. And his plans bore fruit, for though she was born from clay, Pandora was still human. So one day, her curiosity won over her caution, and she opened the lock, and released onto the world all the diseases and sicknesses, hate and envy, all the chaos that humanity had never experience before that were contained inside. Pandora hastened to close the lid, but it was already too late, for all but one evil had already escaped. And she told her husband in tears about what she had done, showing him the empty jar, even the last one escaped. But before it did so, it spoke to her. “Hello, Pandora” it said, “I am Hope”.
The jar is more commonly known as the Pandora’s Box nowadays, and the story has been used in many wide-ranging contexts. I’ve come across it in many different fictions, and yet one part of it never fails to fascinate me, and that is the portrayal of hope. Is it supposed to be an evil, released along with the rest of the evils from the Pandora’s Box? Or is it supposed to be the weapon of humanity that counters the rest? There are times when it seems like ‘hope’ is one of the few things that keep a person going, despite everything. And yet, one wonders, is the going really worth the effort, especially once it becomes harmful, to oneself and to loved ones? Is it even true, or is it just a lie a person tells himself or herself just to keep going? When my train of thought came to the above point, I wondered, is a lie that makes a person happy actually wrong?
And therein lies my question, in a mire of circular reasoning similar to the Ouroboros. Is hope a lie? If yes, is this lie bad? If this is bad but it gives a person hope, is it not worth it? I have yet to find a suitable answer to my questions. But then, I realised that these questions are questions that I will be able to answer only after I gained more experience of life. And even if I do answer them, the cycle will still go on, the dragon serpent will continue biting its own tale, and life will keep on moving, and I will keep on finding happiness in the small things, even in hopeful lies.