Hope is Dead
You heard it (or read it) here. Hope is dead. Or maybe it was never alive, but that’s a can of historical worms I’d just as soon not open. So let’s stick with hope now. When was the last time you remember someone using the word “hope” in conversation?
“I hope there are turkey burgers in the cafe today.”
“I hope I didn’t bomb that test.”
“I hope I don’t see my ex at the party tonight.”
To tell you the truth, remembering when I last heard someone use the word hope in the way that embodies the state of being it originally described is pretty hard, and chances are it was in a class. Ideals to Actions probably, which would make sense because that class was created and taught to instill and promote the idea of hope. In fact, most of the time I hear someone say “hope” in a sentence it has to do with things they don’t want to happen. The whole modern understanding and use of hope is bunked. Full of negative emotions and things we really ought not to be hoping for. Finally, to top it all off, the way “hope” is used it passively, longing for the ideal situation to float your way like a brainless jellyfish in the ocean. Can hope even be passive? Can we hope to think that hoping to think will be all we need to turn our dreams into reality? I really don’t think so.
I know what you’re thinking. No, I’m not a hopeless pessimist angry at “society” (and my parents, and the government, and the world for that matter). In fact, I just think that it’d be easier to get what hope gives you from something else. Resurrecting that word and its meaning from the grave seems too hard, and in the end I don’t like the way hoping for things seems to exclude the” hoper” of any responsibility to make their wishes come true. So what then? Active dreaming? Intentional future shaping? Maybe, but what I’m most interested in relates to a few of the points Steven S makes in his paper on Ecological Intelligence. All the points are wonderful and valid, but the core of my argument draws primarily on these 3 assumptions:
1. To every problem there is a solution
2. We can understand anything by breaking it down into its components’ parts
3. The whole is no more than the sum of the parts.
A vast array of different sources, from philosophy to personal experience to thermodynamics proves that these assumptions are true. In them, I believe lies the solution to the death of hope. The belief that nothing is insurmountable or impossible to comprehend with the proper understanding, research, technology, practice, observation, etc. and that nothing is impossible to change. Armed with these assumptions we can be free to dream, dream big, and dream actively. I like to think of it as “Liberated Realism.” While I see hope as wishy-washy, passive, and often times negative in its direction, Liberated Realism brings people back to reality while assuring them of both humans’ ability to problem solve and the inevitable possibility for success, albeit sometimes after longer than anticipated (but who are we to anticipate to begin with). I’ll depart on that thought and leave you feeling empowered and optimistic, I’ve found it’s gotten me a lot farther than hoping ever has.