To Hope Is to Believe
There is always a way
“To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This, like thy glory, Titan, is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life; Joy, Empire, and Victory!” — Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1820
Hope-peddlers need more respect.
Often derided as being overly optimistic or dismissed with the cliché “hope is not a strategy,” it’s the hard-nosed pragmatists or even the pessimists who seem to be more in touch with reality.
But when we do battle with hope, we eliminate any chance of success as we simply tell ourselves and those around us to give up.
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In Canto III of his Divine Comedy, Dante passes through the gates of Hell, on which is inscribed the phrase “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”
A warning, certainly; but more than that, when we abandon hope we abandon a belief that something good can happen. Without a belief in better forces, better outcomes, or better people, we’re going to find exactly what we expect out of our society, our colleagues, and our families.
The challenge with being hopeful is that it sounds naïve to believe in the unknown. Pessimists are sure of what has happened and are likely to stick to what they know — the “we’ve always done it this way” crowd.
To hope is to put our belief in the unknown.
To hope is to try new things.
To hope is to change.
I’ll give you an example of hope, change, and opportunity that I encountered just last week.
My older son was scheduled to attend a goalie camp outside of Boston for his next phase of hockey. The camp check-in was Friday at 5:00 pm for warm-ups and a Saturday morning start, so I figured taking a 9:15 pm flight from Detroit on Thursday gave us plenty of time.
That is, until about 8:30 pm when Boston’s airport called a full ground-stop moments before we were boarding in Detroit.
The crowd scrambled, and I immediately went into Plan B mode, trying to rebook through the app (ineffective), getting on the phone with Delta (a two-hour hold time), and standing in an endless line comprised of the passengers from three Boston flights.
If ever there was a time for Dante’s “abandon all hope ye who enter,” this was the place.
My son has anxiety, so he got worked up about the situation. I let him know that there were options, that I was trying everything I could because I wanted him to make it, and that if things didn’t work out, it meant it was beyond our control.
Reader, the flights were beyond anyone’s control.
The soonest we could catch a flight was Saturday, as three flights full of people plus all other affected east coast passengers tried to reschedule amid already-full flights.
I wasn’t ready to give up on the trip, but we had to alter our plans significantly: we had the airline pull his hockey equipment (which we later found out wouldn’t happen, because baggage staff went home at 9:00 pm), returned home for a good night’s sleep, and set out by car the next morning.
The only hiccup we ran into was that when we tried to pick up the equipment at DTW, we discovered it had already been sent to BOS. No matter; the 90-minute detour was a minor inconvenience if it meant he’d still be able to attend his camp.
And a silver lining: a father-son road trip over Father’s Day weekend meant 26 extra hours in the car together. We had conversations and shared moments that would not have happened on a shorter plane-bound trip.
Our toughest challenges require solutions that don’t yet exist (otherwise they wouldn’t be difficult). And while hope itself isn’t the answer, it is a torch lighting our way toward growth.
The future is uncertain. But with hope, we can illuminate and inform ourselves as we trod the path.
Without hope, what do we believe in?
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the internet.