Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Thing With Feathers

I like the idea of hope. As I think about all the different definitions I've heard of this word, all the conflicting ideas about it, I feel like sometimes we miss the point of it.
“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out."
--Vaclav Havel, last President of Czechoslovakia and first President of the Czech Republic; poet, playwright, dissident, and human rights champion.
I think this is the best definition I've ever seen, aside from one thing: To me, hope and optimism are the same thing.

I think the problem with people's idea of optimism is perspective. Being an optimist doesn't necessarily mean that you believe everything will go the way you want it to right now; like Havel says, I think it means you believe, you have hope, that in the long run, everything will be right. If this means you suffer short-term failures, that's okay--you can't always see the path beyond where you are now, so if something doesn't go the way you wanted it to, it's just because your information wasn't complete.

Hope means accepting what comes, and learning that no matter what, you never know everything. It requires a faith in something bigger than you: A conviction that even if you can't see it now, things will make sense in the end.


Melissa said...

I was reading a book called "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" by Jamie Ford. There is a part where a young Chinese boy comes up with a plan to rescue his Japanese friend and her family out of the internment camps and her father sweetly rejects his desperate attempt. He tells him that his efforts may not give him freedom but it fostered hope that he would carry with him for however long he was imprisoned. I've been thinking a lot about hope because of this book and I really loved this post. Especially the last paragraph! Thanks Miri!

Meg said...

I've also been thinking about this idea a lot lately. I've been seeing a lot of friends go through a lot of really tough things lately, and sometimes I think the only thing you can do is have hope. I've been thinking of pretty much the same definition - that hope is a belief that everything will work out for the best, and that eventually it will all make sense somehow. It certainly rings true to me.