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The Importance of Hope

The Importance of Hope

You don’t change the world by simply looking at it. You change it through the way you choose to live in it

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Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito, wrote the Roman poet Virgil in the First Century B.C. It’s commonly translated from the Latin as “Do not give in to evils but proceed ever more boldly against them.”

This is what truly good and admirable people do. They don’t surrender to evil. They don’t give in. It doesn’t matter to them how dark it gets. They press on. Darkness often is the crucible in which their character is tested and strengthened. Even in Venezuela today, where socialism has produced a human disaster on a grand scale, lots of people are still hopeful for change.

Hope is not something you can touch, taste, smell or see but it’s powerful stuff, a compelling motivator. It’s a feeling—a premonition, perhaps. It’s a sense that something desirable and worthwhile can be achieved, acquired or realized even if obstacles appear insurmountable. To have hope is to possess a measure of confidence or optimism beyond what present circumstances seem to justify.

Here are some reasons why hope is important:

  • Hope is a self-fulfilling prophecy: It makes you work harder for your goals. Give up and you cede the field to the opposition without a fight. The opposite of hope is hopelessness and I know of no context in which hopelessness improves matters.
  • Hope is healthy: People who have hope are better off mentally, spiritually and physically because of it. Despair and pessimism drag us down in every way, making it even harder to prevail.
  • Hope makes you think: Reflect for a moment on the endless inventions that benefited humans. If their inventors hadn’t had hope, they would have stopped the very thought process that produced results. Nobody thinks much about possibilities if they focus on what they pre-determine is impossible.
  • Hope wins converts: It attracts others to your objective. It makes both your personality and your ideas magnetic. Nobody wants to sign up for a hopeless cause or work with people who exude discouragement.

Big, positive changes that improve things have occurred often in history, usually at inauspicious moments, reinforcing the old adage that “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” The collapse of the old Soviet Union is a classic case in point.

I recently watched a good movie called “The Aeronauts.” It’s loosely based on the story of the pioneering English meteorologist James Glaisher. At a time (1862) when science scoffed at the notion that weather was predictable, he and an associate ascended to a height of at least 30,000 feet in a balloon to prove otherwise. They succeeded. At the conclusion of the film, the soft voice of a narrator declares:

You don’t change the world by simply looking at it. You change it through the way you choose to live in it.

Think about that. We are not puppets on a string. We are human beings—each one of us unique, inner-motivated and able to affect the future if we put a thoughtful mind to it. That should give us all hope that we can make a positive difference, maybe even a really huge one.

An unknown author once wrote, “When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’”

Hope is a potent stimulant. Never, ever let it slip away. No matter what.

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