on Hope

Hope is like a light, and it is itself the switch.

For anyone who reads my blog the words above may sound familiar, probably because they are. I said something similar in my post “on Belief”, where I said “I believe love is like a light, with somebody else at the switch.”

Love is a strange, wonderful, mysterious force over which we have virtually no control.  We can’t compel someone to love us, neither can we stop ourselves from loving someone – thus “someone else is at the switch.”

On a superficial level it seems hope and love are similar. But though the words I’ve used to describe them are, the sentiments behind them are not.  Language is simple, emotions and thoughts aren’t.  Please bear with me as I struggle to convey differences that are nuanced more than obvious.

Hope begins within and is sustained from without.  Love floods us from without then grows within. Love is powerful and compelling. Hope is tenuous and timid.  Love is infinite, hope is finite.

So from the words above it would seem that between love and hope, I believe love is the greater force?

I don’t think so.  Language does not permit ready comparison of the two topics, but I’m inclined to think hope may be the most powerful force in our universe.  Hope helps us accomplish incredible things.  With a little hope we are able to not only undertake impossible tasks, but succeed in completing them.  With hope in our hearts we’ll walk a path of broken glass, barefoot, both ways.  However that isn’t the reason I think hope may be more powerful than love.  The reason is because of what happens in hope’s absence.

Without hope there is no point, no purpose, no reason, and no goal.  Without hope there is no beginning, but there is an end.  When we don’t have hope, we just don’t.  What do I mean by that?  As I said, while language is simple the concepts it is used to convey are complex.  I don’t mean that without hope we just don’t have hope, that would be redundant.  I mean that when we don’t have hope we no longer have the energy or desire to even begin the most trivial of tasks.  But when we have hope we’ll do and withstand the impossible.  Consider that contrast.  With hope in our heart we accomplish. Without hope we don’t even begin.

Where love is the reward, hope is the motivator.

But hope isn’t just about love, hope is about life and how well we live it.

As a parent one of the most terrible realizations I’ve ever made is that my children will not live as good a life as I’ve had. They’re entering the workforce already in debt. They’re living in a world in which social injustice is rampant.  They’re entering a world of unconscionable disparity in income. They’re entering a world in which people have accepted that possessions are more important than people.  They are entering a world in which hope has been mistaken to mean “have”.

I hope my children will be caring, compassionate, and loving – not bigoted, grasping, and afraid.  I hope they can accomplish such a tall order in such a hopelessly terrible world. You be the judge as you read the following.  My oldest daughter, Tamryn, just graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.  She was the only person in her graduating class with a perfect 4.0 GPA.  She is working with Children’s Services, where she makes a difference in the lives of low income families and their children in south eastern Ohio. People like her renew my faith in the goodness of humanity.  I feel my pride in her accomplishments and evolving nature is justified. So what is the problem? The problem is that Tamryn epitomizes pretty much everything wrong in the world we live in.  She is heavily encumbered by student debt.  She is dealing with the victims of a failed and horrifically unjust social system.  Income disparity affects not only those she works with, who are poverty stricken, but it affects her directly since her pay is dollars an hour less than the completely unqualified clerk in Human Resources who completed her employment paperwork.  Tamryn will be continuing her education with a Master’s and then, I hope, a PHD.  However she already knows she’ll literally never be able to pay back the debts her education will incur if she remains in social work.  Before you suggest she change her job into something more lucrative please reconsider these two sentences, “They’re entering a world in which people have accepted that possessions are more important than people.“, and “They are entering a world in which hope has been mistaken to mean “have”.”

Let me summarize, perhaps it’ll help me understand why I’m finding my hope in humanity wearing so thin. Tamryn is working to give hope to children largely without hope, while being being financially penalized for exposing the goodness of her heart.  How hopeless is that?  Is our only hope to flee into imaginary worlds where the status-quo of this broken one is not?

Which brings me back to the opening line of this post, “Hope is like a light, and it is itself the switch.”  Hope is not infinite. Hope may be able to spread itself thin, it may be able to keep its flame burning  in the face of a gale force wind. But hope is finite. And at some point hope simply runs out and turns itself off. I know.  I’ve been there and done that, and suspect I will again.

To me, hope has been important enough to prompt me to speak of it many times. A few examples from Twitter appear below.

Hope has no place in a world where indifferent silence rules.

How can we hope to learn, if we close our ears to all whose views run contrary to our own?

Without hope, could we continue? #thought

You cannot compel love, you can only give it, in hope it is accepted, and returned. #thought

To relinquish hope is to relinquish life.

If we can’t see deeper than the words, what hope have we of ever understanding? {Even of our own heart.}

Hope, sometimes it is all we have, to hold.

If you don’t question then you shouldn’t hope to learn. However, if you can’t question then you cannot hope to learn.

~ Hope ~ http://cgayling.com/malmaxa/2014/10/hope/ … a poem.

If we dare not explore our deepest fears what hope have we of overcoming them?

Hope is for the future, memory is for the past.

My hope for your future is that you’re able to find the external sustenance your hopes need to stay turned on.

About C.G.Ayling

Musing misuser of words, lover of lyrical literature, author, occasional contrary thoughts. An honorable man’s name, in memoriam.
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