December 2, 2018
About hope . . . I’m tempted to mention the ways in which I’ve regretted getting what I wanted. Little did I know, I wasn’t asking the right question. But first, my wandering mind wondered:
- Why do I hope?
- Does everybody hope?
- Is it part of our DNA?
- Do other creatures hope under troubling circumstances, such as starving and hoping for food?
- Did Jesus hope?
Clearly, hope is very useful. Hopeful people tend to be more open-minded and eager to explore opportunities. Sometimes, they appear to be just a bit more lucky or happy than the rest of us. Though hopefulness resembles belief, it may very well be hard-wired into the very motivation of life itself, including adaptation to survive and thrive.
Hopelessness is over-rated. Though facts do not always suggest that hope is reasonable, proof of hopelessness is seldom absolute. Our evaluation of available facts never fully accounts for the improbable or uncanny ways in which persistence prevails. Often, the best hope for hopelessness is the simple decision to change one’s mind.
Many of my most valuable life experiences were the opposite of what I’d hoped for. I was sometimes wrong to believe that I knew what was in my own best interest. Add to this the fact that my best interests are never strictly personal. That is, my best interests and the best interests of all creation are complementary, if not the same. When I first glimpsed this probability, both the subject of hope and the purpose of hope changed for me.
Apparently, the spirit in which a hopeful thought is offered is everything. If both the motivation and goal is Peace, the Holy Spirit, the Messenger of Peace, will oblige with kind reassurance. The immediate result will be a peaceful feeling, through which hope starts to resemble faith. In this sense, hope is wishing and faith resembles knowing.
Meanwhile, I hope that the Holy Spirit will reply to my request for help to see things differently. It never fails to answer any sincere question with the same answer: Be still, fear not, forgive and awaken. Over time, I may come to know that the Holy Spirit will guide and comfort me in my uncertainty. This final outcome is certain and worthy of hope.
In 1973, more than two decades after a young woman wrote to Albert Einstein with a similar concern, one man sent a distressed letter to E.B. White (July 11, 1899–October 1, 1985), lamenting that he had lost faith in humanity. The beloved author, who was not only a masterful letter-writer but also a professional celebrator of the human condition and an unflinching proponent of the writer’s duty to uplift people, took it upon himself to boost the man’s sunken heart with a short but infinitely beautiful reply, found in Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience . . .
Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
E. B. White