What’s In A Word: Hope

I look into words or phrases that catch my interest

Hope2Hope, like the gleaming taper’s light,
Adorns and cheers our way;
And still, as darker grows the night,
Emits a brighter ray.
Oliver Goldsmith, The Captivity

Hope is a desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it. Despair is the opposite of hope.

Hope flows from the human desire to control an uncertain future. Hope gives us the courage and confidence to take action, no matter what the odds against us. Without hope, we would never take risks, never believe we can change our fate.

“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope,” says Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

But sometimes hope can be counterproductive, even harmful, as you’ll soon see.

Hope Comes In Many Forms

High-flying Hope
“Hope — Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us… A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”
President Barack Obama

Modest Hope
”I hope I’m not late to work Monday morning.”
The noble word hope is grossly overused and cheapened.

Low-flying Hope
“I hope they serve beer in Hell!”
People pervert and cheapen the word love, too.

Worried Hope
“I hope that gun’s not loaded.”
Please comment with your favorite examples of Worried Hope.

Superstitious Hope
When we use hope as a charm or spell for a positive outcome, regardless of possibility or probability. “I hope I win the Lotto! It’s my birthday.”

Reasonable Hope
“Hope is the belief that something is possible and probable, and the recognition that the degree of each is not necessarily equal. Hope supports realistic optimism, a necessary component of success. Optimists are powerful for solving wicked problems, the ones pessimists say can’t be solved.”
Deborah Mills-Scofield, Hope Is a Strategy (Well, Sort Of)

Fraudulent Hope
“Hope calculates its schemes for a long and durable life; presses forward to imaginary points of bliss; grasps at impossibilities; and consequently very often ensnares men into beggary, ruin, and dishonour.”
Joseph Addison, The Spectator, Nov. 13, 1712

Blind Hope
”Blind hope faces a blank wall waiting for a door in it to open. Doors might be nearby, but blind hope keeps you from locating them.”
Rebecca Solnit


Hopelessness or Hope

two-and-a-half years of meth addiction

two-and-a-half years of meth addiction

year and a half of meth addiction

year and a half of meth addiction

three months of meth addiction

three months of meth addiction

Look at these faces ravaged by addiction, the dead eyes.

We can see what’s happening to these addicts, but they can’t — they’re in denial.

Though it’s obvious to everyone else, an addict will stubbornly insist they do not have a problem, or their problems are someone else’s fault.

Denial traps addicts and alcoholics in a spiral of self-destruction. Denial makes them unreachable by any helpers.

Are the people in these mug shots hopeless cases?

When we believe change is impossible, that there are no options, that’s hopelessness.

I’ve known people who, because of alcoholism, were at one time in far worse shape than these meth addicts, people who had sunk about as low as they could possibly go. Families, friends, employers, the authorities — all gave up on them. He’s a hopeless case if ever there was one!

Yet today, these same people are sober, productive members of society, and they help make the world a better place. To look at them, you would never guess their history, the things they’ve done to themselves and to others.

Something happened; somehow they got off the merry-go-round of denial and admitted they had a problem.

At a fork in the road, they chose life over death, hope over despair. You could call it a miracle. “God did a drive-by on me,” a recovering alcoholic explains.

The people I mention, the success stories, they’re not cured. They struggle on a daily basis; alcoholism and drug addiction are a mandatory life sentence. But they have hope, awaken each morning with a desire to get through the day sober and the confidant expectation that — if they take action, take the necessary steps — they will go to bed sober that night.

There are no hopeless cases.

Call me a hopeless optimist, but I can imagine the above booking photos transposed, the before and after photos reversed, and “meth addiction” replaced with “sobriety.”

There is always hope. It’s never too late, no matter how low you go, no matter how many relapses. [With the caveat that you have to be alive and not have screwed up your brain too badly].

And hope, unlike dope & booze, is free.

The mug shots are from Faces of Meth, an anti-drug campaign in Oregon. The people in the mug shots agreed to participate in the campaign, in the hope their story and photos persuade others not to use methamphetamine (see? they are not hopeless cases!). Get more info in my comment to this post.




Most of us are familiar with the story of Pandora’s box. In Greek mythology, the gods give Pandora, the first woman, a gift — a beautifully ornate box.

“The gift is the box, not what’s inside it,” the gods tell Pandora. “Do not – repeat, DO NOT — open this box!”

Curiosity eats at Pandora, and, unable to resist, she lifts the lid. Out flies all the ills of society– hate, pain, poverty, violence, plagues, telemarketers, debt collectors, DMV clerks – everything that makes our lives miserable.

Pandora’s desire for the forbidden, much like Eve’s temptation in the Garden the Eden, leads her to defy the gods, with terrible consequences.

That, say the ancient Greeks, is how evil and trouble came into the world.

But that’s not the whole story, there’s more to the myth. As the evil spirits fly out, a terrified Pandora slams the lid shut, and traps the one remaining spirit in the box: Hope.

Why was Hope in the box with all those evil spirits? How did Hope finally get out of the box and into people’s hearts?

I’m going to tell you the full story of Pandora’s Box, my version of the myth anyway. I call it Hope-In-A-Box. I’m writing it now. Actually, I’ve been writing it for weeks; slow going, but I’m about half way finished.

I hope to post Hope-In-A-Box early in 2013. So bookmark this page. The link to my story of hope, evil, and crazy gods will be right here.


5 thoughts on “What’s In A Word: Hope

  1. Steve says:

    Christian Hope

    In Christianity, hope is an expectation based on the promises of God.

    ”Christian hope is when God has promised that something is going to happen and you put your trust in that promise. Christian hope is a confidence that something will come to pass because God has promised it will come to pass.” John Piper, desiringGod.com http://www.desiringgod.org

    Hope that comes from God and not from ourselves (our wishful thinking) frees us from fear and anxiety. We let go of our fears and let God take care of it according to His plan.

    I know many of you are turned off by any mention of God. But to see how this trustful hope in God works in people’s lives, read this post by Faith Dunn on her blog Great Smitten: The place where my hope comes from

  2. Steve says:

    Faces of Meth™ is a project of the Multonomah County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon. This project began when a deputy in the Corrections Division Classification Unit, Deputy Bret King, put together mug shots of persons booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center.

    Deputy King worked with his co-workers in the Classification Unit to identify people who had been in custody more than once. He then worked to verify criminal records and files to determine and assure a history of methamphetamine related use. Deputy King also started interviewing people in custody to learn of their drug use, experiences with methamphetamine, how or if methamphetamine contributed to their criminality, and asked what they would tell young people about methamphetamine.

    What Deputy King set out to do was create a realistic presentation about methamphetamine. He didn’t want to create something that made people curious about a drug nor that was a scared straight program. The idea was simple, be honest with kids, let them hear directly from the inmates, and show them what people who work on the front lines – whether it be a Corrections Deputy in the Jail, a Police Officer on the streets or a Public Health Nurse in a clinic see methamphetamine doing to people and to our communities.

    Deputy King starts each of his presentations by saying, “I thank the men and women who, through their stories and photos, can share their experience with methamphetamine so you never have to try it yourself to know what it can do. I have seen and interviewed each of these people in jail. I hope that in seeing this you will make choices to not use methamphetamine and that I will never see you come inside my jail.”


  3. Steve says:

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers

    by Emily Dickinson

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all –

    And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
    And sore must be the storm –
    That could abash the little Bird
    That kept so many warm –

    I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
    And on the strangest Sea –
    Yet – never – in Extremity,
    It asked a crumb – of me.

  4. Variations: There are many variations on this popular story. Some versions say that Prometheus captured all the bad things and put them in a box. He then gave the box to his brother for safekeeping. Pandora found it and opened it, thus releasing all the bad things. Other versions say it was Epimetheus who opened the box, not Pandora. Some variations say all the good things of the world were inside the box, just as they were inside humans. When Pandora released the good, it left humans as well. The only thing that stays forever is hope, because Pandora managed to capture hope before it flew from the box as well.

    • Steve says:

      Yes, there are many versions to the Pandora’s Box myth. In the original stories, it’s a jar Pandora (or whomever) opens, not a box. Double entendre aside, Pandora’s Jar doesn’t have the same ring to it.

      You mention Epimetheus. Epimetheus, who marries Pandora, figures in my retelling of the Pandora’s Box myth. I have him as a big, dumb drunk — the opposite of his famous brother Prometheus. I’m not very kind to Pandora, either.

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