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Day 48: Lessons in Hope

“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.” ~Dale Carnegie

Perhaps my favorite way of learning about anything is reading the knowledge produced by my predecessors about the subject in question. Yesterday I worked diligently to lean toward hope even as despair pulled at my heels. Every victory toward hope, no matter how small or frequent the effort to find it again, changes life for us all. Martin Luther King relied on hope to share his dream that still changes the world when he said: “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.”

Coming to hope is one of the most profound daily choices we make. Don Quixote’s mad journey ended with this conclusion.“Sanity may be madness but the maddest of all is to see life as it is and not as it should be.” We build trust in ourselves and our relationships by giving life the benefit of the doubt. Maintaining trust in the goodness of life and humanity is a matter of survival as Elie Wiesel shares when he said: “Just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” 

Indeed, the most important figures in history have been people of hope. Whether you look at the great religious teachers like Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Mohammed, Ghandi, Mother Teresa or even great political leaders like Lincoln, King, or Kennedy, the one thing they all shared was their belief in the goodness of humanity and their ability to inspire it around them. Howard Zinn, who just recently passed away and who was one of the most respected historians of the people said, To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.”

The more you choose hope, the easier it gets, because life is made meaningful out of our connections, which with all our imperfections springs from hope. Robert Fulghum, said, ” I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge — myth is more potent than history — dreams are more powerful than facts — hope always triumphs over experience — laughter is the cure for grief — love is stronger than death.” A positivity chant if ever I heard one.