Could there be anything worse than believing a situation is hopeless or discovering someone who has given up all hope?  Such utter despair is unbearable, utterly devastating because nearly all of us cling to hope, even under the most trying of circumstances.  We resist surrendering to the mindless workings of fate.  We are not helpless; nothing is pre-ordained.  It is possible to alter the course of events.  Always, there is hope.

“Hope Springs Eternal” because we believe it so.  It is an essential coping mechanism.  While we cannot shape the course of future events, “hoping” allows us to play a part.  Hope neutralizes defeatism, enables us to detect even the slightest positive indications.  Hope is the driver of optimism upon which we base our lives.  It motivates us to remain involved, to stay upbeat, to refuse to admit defeat whatever the odds.  Give people hope and you tap into a deep reservoir of energy and attachment.  (As the candidate of Hope and Change, Barack Obama ignited a wave of enthusiasm in the 2008 presidential campaign.)

Hope provides a way to postpone coming to terms with what may be inevitable (and thus we speak often of “false hopes”).  We hope for the recovery of a critically ill person.  It puts us on record in his or her behalf.  It lifts the spirits of others, but without assuming responsibility for the outcome.  When “there is still hope”, there’s no reason for despair.

Hope is a means of connecting to others, of demonstrating our concern for their well- being.  “I hope you get the job.”  “We really hope you’re admitted to the college of your choice.”  “I hope you have a very joyous holiday.”

Hope enables us to demonstrate intention but stops short of commitment, i.e. it creates wriggle room.  “I hope I can join you this weekend.”  “I hope I can be back by 5PM.”  “Hopefully I’ll have the first draft ready by Monday.”

It’s hard to imagine how we could get on with our lives without hope, especially when we encounter defeat and repeated discouragement.  When the path to our goal is not at all clear, hope bridges the gap between intention and outcome.  Hope can inoculate us against failure, fortify us for the struggles ahead.  For that reason, and at all times, “we hope for the best.”

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