Is Hope Worth Hoping For?
I hope this post is hopeful. :-)
What is hope? When searching for the meaning of hope, I found many definitions, but most relate hope to the following words: trust, wish, expectation, plan, goal or dream. Often, the antonym for hope is pessimism. For this post I would like think of hope in terms of trust, wish, etc., and consider whether we sometimes should not hope and/or be pessimistic. There has been much written about hope and since I’m no expert on the subject, I am going to use what others have written and then give my reaction.
Consider the following proverb:
As long as we have hope, we have direction, the energy to move, and the map to move by. We have a hundred alternatives, a thousand paths and infinity of dreams. Hopeful, we are halfway to where we want to go; Hopeless, we are lost forever.
The message in the proverb is nice and uplifting, but I disagree with what I think is implied. If I’m interpreting it correctly, hope implies direction, alternatives and many paths. I think hope does help with dreams, and being hopeless will lead us toward being lost, but more is needed than hope, in order for us to have direction, energy, etc.
OK, so what do I mean when I say that more is needed than hope? Consider the following quote from Dale Carnegie.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”
Mr. Carnegie does not discount hope, but tells us that more than just hope is needed. You see, hope is important and it is only the first step. When there seems to be no hope, then what? After hope, for example, there needs to be commitment to a goal/plan or considering alternate points of view. In other words, we shouldn’t rely only on hope for accomplishing important things.
Another way illustrating this idea is simply describe in this quote from Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
“However, one cannot put a quart in a pint cup.”
Hope alone, will not allow us to put a quart in a pint; it’s important to make our thinking fit reality.
Or, consider the following quote from Dorothy Thompson.
“Fear grows in darkness; if you think there’s a bogeyman around, turn on the light.”
When trying to put a quart in a pint cup, we need more than hope in order to complete the task. Perhaps, a reality check! :-) If you think there is something in a dark room, don’t “hope it” away, but instead, turn on the light.
Hopefully, I have made my point; in my opinion, hope alone is not sufficient. We need hope and ??????; We don’t need hope or ??????
Let’s consider the and ??????
I start with a quote from Don Quixote.
“Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.”
This helps us see that we must look toward the future and not accept life as it is. In this sense, hope for a future that is “as it should be,” has us considering the positive aspects of hope.
How about this quote from Lin Yutang?
“Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.”
This is another view, metaphorically speaking, that clarifies how hope is important to help us create “the path we travel in life.” Note, I wrote path, not direction. Uhmmmmm!
Before we get too hopeful about hope, please consider the following from Friedrich Nietzsche.
“Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.”
Also, what do you think about the following quote from George Bernard Shaw?
“He who has never hoped can never despair.”
Am I for or against hope? Of course, I am for hope. I’m just pointing out that, in my opinion, hope is a necessary but insufficient feeling for having a fulfilling life.
How about a quote from our current president, Barack Obama, illustrating how important hope is, and has been, to America.
“We’ve been warned against offering the people of this nation false hope. But in the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”
It’s common to have a president speak of hope. In fact, William Jefferson Clinton, our 42nd president, often spoke about hope. He was from Hope (Arkansas). :-)
Is hope worth hoping for? It is if we follow it with action directed toward accomplishing what we hope for.
My last quote is from Winston Churchill.
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
An optimist usually expects a favorable outcome and therefore, manifests hope. Churchill states that the optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty and I would add that the successful optimist also seizes the opportunity that is seen in every difficulty!