This week the Democratic Party successfully launched a great ship of hope from Boston harbor. And while the winds of change that would guide it grow mightier, it is by no means certain that it will reach its destination come this November.

As the election draws nearer, the many millions of us aboard this great ship should expect to be told and told again by the powers that be to be frightened of our voyage. They will dare us to imagine what terrors lie in wait within the seas of change. They will manufacture a dense fog of fear, and then claim only they can protect us from the unspeakable dangers that only they can see within it.

Over the next few weeks and months, the powers that be will seek to reinstate the primacy of fear, and transform our hope into despair. Lest we remain hopeful, color-coded threat charts and warnings of imminent unknowable events will be broadcast again and again to remind us to become fearful. With increasing urgency, we will be directed to proceed in an orderly fashion, duct tape and plastic sheeting in hand, to our muster stations so to abandon our great ship of hope for their shores of safety. Put simply, they will dare us to hope.

Fear is a formidable opponent. The fear of lost power generates even more fear to maintain it. The history of man demonstrates nothing if not the awful lengths to which those in power will go to hold on to it. How else to make us follow those whose policies and actions otherwise directly conflict with the self-interests of most of us?

Great leaders are not peddlers of fear - they are peddlers of hope. Desperate leaders make little secret of their contempt for hope. They instead bring fear to our front doors, and into our living rooms, and then for the small price of a vote they promise to provide safety and security from the fear that they've brought. They're sure most of us will pay it.

But not this year - this year change is too sorely needed for us to allow this to happen. The powers that be hold more power, politically and militarily, than have ever been held before. If there is to be fear, let it be of the thought of four more years of an administration now unencumbered by desires of reelection.

It is not presumptuous to hope - it is an obligation. Life without hope is life without change. Change is irrevocably betrothed to hope. When the powers that be say "Be afraid. Be very, very afraid", hope is that little voice inside of us that answers: "I am not afraid. I will not be made to feel afraid."

It is just these little voices, small and courageous, that when heard together will remind each of us that we are not alone on this voyage. If our great ship of hope is to reach its destination, it will take all of our little voices to resist the politics of fear.

Todd Huffman, M.D.
Eugene, Oregon