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.