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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is "Hope"?

"Hope is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

The past three years, starting with the candidacy of then Senator Barack Obama, using the word as his slogan, the term "Hope" has been thrown around cheaply and embraced by millions upon millions of people wanting things to desperately get better, pinning their hopes on 'change' and yet who do not truly understand what the word actually means.

Hope--  It is the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. It is distinct from positive thinking, which refers to a process used in psychology for reversing pessimism.  It can be passive in the sense of a wish, or active as a plan or idea, often against popular belief, with persistent, personal action to execute the plan or prove the idea.

"Hope" is a rather negative word.   Some examples...

1)  Studying to take an exam:

-  I believe if I study hard, I will pass
-  I'm optimistic if I study hard, I will pass
-  I hope that if i study hard, I will pass.

~  The first two statements are positive and confident. They are pro-active.  The third statement says that even by studying hard, the speaker still may not pass and ultimately, their destiny is out of the person's hands.

2)  Family member about to have surgery:

-  I spoke to the surgeon and believe he/she will do a good job
-  I spoke to the surgeon and am optimistic he/she will do a good job
-  I spoke to the surgeon and hope he/she will do a good job

~ In the first two statements, the speaker is saying that by speaking to the surgeon, his/her fears are calmed and feel a level of confidence and positivism in the outcome- the family member's successful surgery.  The use of 'hope' means the speaker spoke to the surgeon and still has doubts and a deep-down belief the surgery will not go well.  It says the speaker has a lack of faith and trust in the surgeon but is putting on a happy face.

3)  A carpet stain

- I believe if i scrub hard enough, I will get rid of the stain
- I am optimistic if i scrub hard enough, I will get rid of the stain
- I hope if i scrub hard enough, I will get rid of the stain

~ In this example, no matter what the speaker thinks, there is a chance the stain will not come out regardless.  However, the belief and optimism expressions convey someone who has experienced this before and has a good indication the result will be positive.  The one who hopes implies that he/she expects the efforts to be fruitless but believes trying is better than doing nothing.

4)  A new President is elected:

-  I believe this person is the right one to turn this nation around
-  I am optimistic this person is the right one to turn this nation around
-  I hope this person is the right one to turn this nation around

Though nothing is assured when dealing with a politician who by nature of the profession is slimy and dishonest, the first two statements declare a calm assuredness that the new President will be the one to put the nation on a better course.  The person who embraces 'hope' is not very confident or assured.  He/she crosses fingers and prays that the new President's rhetoric becomes reality.  But doubt, even a small amount lingers.

Hope is a word of negativity-- of insecurity and doubt; a word meant to convey insincere outward optimism when it is not there on the inside.

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