Hope is powerful. And hope is the birthright of everyone. But sometimes it is hard to have hope.
Hope is the conviction, in spite of contrary-seeming evidence, that things will somehow turn out well. And it is the related belief that no matter how bad things seem to be, they can change for the better at any moment.
Hope is also the belief that no matter how many times we have failed and messed up, we can begin again and change our path for the better.
Now, some people believe that hope stems from irrational optimism.
For instance, someone might argue that there is no rational reason to believe anything will work out well or even change for the better in any way.
And folks who argue this might point out all the suffering, tragedy, and absurdity that goes on around us unceasingly, it seems. They might point out the relentless cruelty and stupidity of people.
Plagued by such concerns, the philosopher Sartre once wrote, “Hell is other people.” (Drawing and painting by Shelly P. Johnson.)
And folks skeptical of hope might further argue that we tell ourselves fairy-tales of hope because facing reality would be too painful.
For instance, they might suggest that all the dark aspects of reality prove that human beings as a whole are worthless, incapable, isolated, and doomed to destroy themselves.
For instance, in his book The Principle of Hope, the philosopher Ernst Bloch expresses the concerns of many folks with such skepticism. Speaking in their voice, he writes,
“Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going? What are we waiting for? What awaits us? Many only feel confused. The ground shakes, they do not know why and with what. Theirs is a state of anxiety; if it becomes more definite, then it is fear.”
Folks with such fears might point out further that the very fact that hope tries to exert itself in the face of contrary evidence proves that hope is irrationally optimistic.
But this is a mistaken view of hope.
Hope can recognize that suffering, tragedy, and absurdity are indeed, an ever-present aspect of reality but that there is a deeper reality.
Namely, hope invites us to recognize (among other things) that we are worthy, capable, connected, called to adventure.
Drawing and painting by Shelly P. Johnson.
I like to think of these four hopeful ideas as the Four Basic Truths.
Understanding them can help us kindle hope in the New Year.
So, here’s a little bit more about each truth:
Every human being possesses the seeds of human superpowers within them. These are superpowers like love, wisdom, justice, creativity, courage, and self-control.
And these superpowers, in fact, are the core of our humanity.
The more we develop these powers, the more fully humane and fully ourselves we become. And the more we express our Wise, True and Highest Self.
Now, these superpowers don’t allow us to fly or turn invisible. But they do allow us to do even more miraculous things.
For instance, they let us do things like see through people’s bad behavior and catch sight of their human dignity that still exists inside them despite their muck.
And our superpowers help us do things like figure out creative solutions to seemingly insurmountable problems.
Our superpowers give us the courage to remain calm when other people disrespect us. And they help us find just solutions to conflict and bring more love, rather than hate, into the world.
And that is reason for hope.
Because it means that all over the world, there are people connecting with and tapping into their human superpowers to bring more radiance into the world. In fact, this happens constantly. And it is happening right now. That wonderful, hopeful news.
One of my places to read about such good news is the Good News Network.
Because all of us possess the seeds of these human superpowers within us, we are capable of achieving any loving goal we have in some form or another.
A loving goal is any goal that brings more goodness into our lives and the lives of those around us. Furthermore, it is through such goals that our superpowers grow and express themselves. So, our superpowers are on our side and want to help us achieve our loving goals.
And that is reason for hope because it means that right now you and millions of people in the world are dreaming up loving, exciting goals that will absolutely make the world a better place.
And all our human superpowers are conspiring to help us achieve these beautiful goals.
It’s like the world is conspiring in our favor. There’s a word for that. It’s called pronoia, and a cool guy named Rob Brezny wrote an entire book about it.
If we all possess the same human superpowers in our unique situation, and if our human superpowers want us to succeed, that means we are all connected in a powerful way.
That’s because every time we take steps to accomplish our loving goals, there are people around us who want to support us and help us achieve our loving goals.
That’s similar to how when we see people around us taking steps to achieve their loving goals, we want to support them, too.
So, while we may feel disconnected sometimes, we are all connected through an infinite sea of the power of Goodness flowing through everyone. This Goodness constantly conspires to express itself in the world through our lives.
Drawing and painting by Shelly P. Johnson.
And you can think of this Goodness as God, the magic of the Universe, or the combined power of Highest Self of everyone in the world. And it’s okay to think it is all of those things combined. I often do.
The Quaker mystic George Fox sometimes wrote about this Good as Love, and he believed it was the deepest, underlying reality in the world.
He wrote about the existence of both darkness and Love in the world,
“I saw that there was an ocean of darkness and death, but an infinite ocean of light and love which flowed over the ocean of darkness.”