How do you think about Hope?
Hope for Hope
How do you think about hope?
Last Thursday night, thanks to our founding member, Rachel Kraus, we had our first meeting in a home in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
A meeting is where humans meet in person, without technology, and play gracefully with ideas, instead of always arriving at a violence of opinion. Maggie’s wrong.
Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits.
When minds meet, they don't just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.
30 strangers sitting in a circle ready to converse and go down the rabbit hole of hope together. Phones locked away, free to think freely for ourselves. The sound of silence and mystery reverberates across the room.
We deliberately do not introduce ourselves, at least at the beginning. This helps us focus on the idea not the messenger. The first idea mentioned is offered as a question. Are we either hopeless people or hopeful people?
Hope is a waking dream.
We raised hands and the split was roughly 70/30 hopeful. Someone then mentioned Pandora’s box….
We learned together that Pandora's box was a gift from the gods to Pandora, the first woman on Earth. The box contained all the evils of the world, which were released when Pandora opened it. However, it also contained hope, which was the only ‘thing’ that remained inside the box.
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul - and sings the tunes without the words - and never stops at all.
Symbolically, Pandora’s box represents the curiosity and desire for knowledge that can lead to both negative consequences and positive outcomes. The evils inside the box can be seen as the challenges and difficulties of life, while the hope represents the optimism and resilience to overcome those challenges.
We then started to wonder why hope was the only thing that remained in Pandora’s box. Someone then said ‘Hope is what makes us human, it keeps us alive amidst the suffering.’ After the meeting, we found the passage below which was written by a Greek poet, Theognis of Megara, 2600 years ago!
Hope is the only good god remaining among mankind;
the others have left and gone to Olympus.
Trust, a mighty god has gone, Restraint has gone from men,
and the Graces, my friend, have abandoned the earth.
Men's judicial oaths are no longer to be trusted, nor does anyone
revere the immortal gods; the race of pious men has perished and
men no longer recognize the rules of conduct or acts of piety.
It seems like hoping for hope might well be one of the fundamental human axioms. An interesting question was then posed. Do you look at New York City as the city of rats or the city of opportunity? The idea behind the question seemed to be that hope is all about perspective.
Questions then littered the room like confetti. How do we spread hope? What is the relationship between hope and reality? How do we have a plan for hope? Are there situations where hope does not serve us?
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Someone then said ‘hope can be dangerous in situations you can’t control.’ As a riposte to this statement, a beautiful book which has sold 16 million copies was mentioned: A Man’s search for meaning.
In this book, the Author, Viktor Frankl, details the horrors of Auschwitz and the moral corruption of those who worked there. He also describes how holding onto hope was literally a life-or-death choice. Those who lost hope, he said, developed a certain look in their eye, a fatalism that inevitably ended in death. They experienced a loss of meaning, a loss of hope, and a sense that nothing really mattered any more.
They must not lose hope but should keep their courage in the certainty that the hopelessness of our struggle did not detract from its dignity and its meaning.
The words ‘should keep courage’ are particularly prescient here since the last meeting we did was on the topic of courage. As the conversation on the idea of hope continued, we were meandering through a maze of thoughtful contributions which then arrived at a salient question.
Instead of asking you that question now, read the two quotes below.
To live without Hope is to Cease to live - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man. Friedrich Nietzsche
It seems like hope, like almost every idea, is all about perspective.
let’s all hope for more hope….
“The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.” — Barbara Kingsolver
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