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the Box of Pandora

2012/11/04 - Author: Marco Neves - 2 Comments

Pandora’s box story is wrong! It always has been. Here is why it is wrong, and the revised version.

The story (as usually told) says that Zeus, the Greek god, gave a box to Pandora, and told her to never open it, no matter what happened.

Told not to do something, Pandora had no option but to open it – as her curiosity would not accept any other option – and when she did, all the worst evils in the world – who were previously locked in the box – escaped and started pestering the mankind.

And, the story goes on, when Pandora looked inside the box, only one thing remained inside the box – Hope.

Hope, the story says, was inside the box because Zeus did know that Pandora would open the box, so he thought that Hope would help the  mankind better endure all the pain, all the suffering that would come from the released evils.

And this is where the story got it wrong. What is more likely to have happened is that while capturing Hope, Zeus was touched by her, and when giving the box to Pandora he hoped that she would not open it.

And that is where it all started. But not where it end.

When Pandora opened the box, mankind had still one more opportunity. Pandora could have close the box and leave Hope inside.

You ask why would Pandora leave Hope locked inside the box? Well, because Hope was never a gift. Wishing it was a gift was Hope already in action.

Hope was not just another of the many evils locked inside the box. It is the worst, the darkest, the biggest of them all.

Hope is a evil so big that it can’t move by itself. It needs someone to carry it along.

But, you ask, why is Hope that big evil you say? Isn’t Hope supposed to help ease a bit our pain in the hard moments?

You are right. Hope does indeed help us when life is difficult – it makes our pain a bit more bearable, and that is exactly what makes it so perverse.

Just by making life a bit easier to endure, it keeps us from reaching our breaking point and from being forced to find a solution to our problems, from investing the time, the energy – and sometimes the money – needed to make our life better.

Most of the time is hope that keep us in jobs that don’t make us happy, that don’t pay us enough to empower our lives, that have co-workers, bosses or clients we don’t tolerate. It’s the hope that the boss changes, that we get a special bonus or a special raise.

Most of the time it’s hope that keep us on relationships that don’t work – sometimes they don’t work anymore, but some relationships never really worked. But we don’t move on because of the hope that everything will get better, we have hope that in the end everything will be ok.

But life don’t change just because of wishful thinking. It takes your own effort to steer  your life.

Before you ask, no, Hope is not the only thing that keep us from improving our lives, from doing what needs to be done. But lets keep fear for another time.

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Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. by Rafael

    Interesting post. Challenging to the mind.

    But I’m afraid I disagree with nearly everything you said here. Let me tell why… 🙂

    Sometimes I do feel that hope is a perverse feeling. It sometimes keeps us attached to dreams we know we can’t accomplish, it makes us long for a love that never was and never will be… seems like it can hurt.

    But when I think hard about it, I can’t really blame hope.

    All the examples you gave, sticking to a job we don’t like, and prolonging a helpless relationship with someone we don’t love anymore, can be blamed not on hope, but on fear. Fear of changing, fear of moving on, of accepting reality.

    Even when you hope a beloved one will not die, I don’t think it is hope to be blamed but the fear of accepting that, well, people just die. Even people we love.

    Hope is never a bad thing. It makes us do good. And well. The bad thing is when, well, when you turn hope into irrational faith or into utopia and refuse to accept, to move on, to change.

  2. by Marco Neves

    Yes, Fear is the second feeling that keep us from improving. I have a couple of posts about Fear to write, that I hope to publish during the coming week.

    I would also say that pity/sympathy/mercy also contribute to that same problem you describe – this ones are usually a lot more complex that Hope and Fear as they involve other people and their feeling and lives. Unlike Fear and Hope, those feelings are also important for us as member of the society.

    Check also Hope and Faith to see how I propose that Hope and Faith are told one from the other – tell me what you think about the distinctions I draw there.

    Thank you,


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