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What Is This Thing Called Hope? And Where Would We Be Without It? OP/ED

By Pamela Jean     May 30, 2007 in Health
We all have one thing in common. We all hope for something. For some it is money, others good health, a new boyfriend, a good job. But, what happens when we give up all hope? Is it possible to exist without it?
In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman. Zeus had her created as part of the punishment of mankind for Prometheus' theft of the secret of fire, and all the gods joined in offering her seductive gifts.
According to the myth, Pandora opened a container jar releasing all the evils of mankind— greed, vanity, slander, envy, pining— leaving only hope inside once she had closed it again.
Why was hope left inside the box? Apparently the Greeks felt hope was the most dangerous of all of the world’s evils. But they soon came to realize that without hope, all of life miseries were too much to bear. All of humanity was filled with despair.
It was with great relief when Pandora revisited her box and released the last remaining evil – Hope.
But, is hope an evil, as the Greeks feared? For in actuality, where would we be without it?
“Hope Springs Eternal”, “I hope it will rain”, “I hope the test results are good ones”, “I hope they remember to call”, “I hope she drives carefully”, I hope I’m not late”, I hope she gets well soon”, the list of our daily hopes is endless.
Hope is defined as “a belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life. Hope implies a certain amount of perseverance — i.e., believing that a positive outcome is possible even when there is some evidence to the contrary.”
So when the doctor tells you that there isn’t any hope, what do you do? You press on. You continue to hope. Hope for a miracle, another chance, a change in the outcome. When the convict is sentenced to life with no hope of parole, what does he do? He presses on, he fights for another day in court. He refuses to give up. When you’re down to your last dime, and there is no job in sight, when all seems hopeless – what do you do? You push on, you keep trying, you hope that things will turn around. You refuse to give up - hope.
But, without hope, where does one turn? We’ve all read the stories. “Mother hangs herself and her 3 children”, “Man commits suicide while internet viewers watch”, “Teen kills 17, turns gun on himself”, “Teen commits suicide.”
In living a life without hope, what is there? Can there be life without hope?
“Hopefulness is somewhat different from optimism in that hope is an emotional state, whereas optimism is a conclusion reached through a deliberate thought pattern that leads to a positive attitude. But hope and optimism both can be based in unrealistic belief, or fantasy.
Hope is often the result of faith in that while hope is an emotion, faith carries a divinely inspired and informed form of positive belief. Hope is typically contrasted with despair, but despair may also refer to a crisis of faith. Hence, when used in a religious context, hope carries a connotation being aware of spiritual truth.”
Is hope separate from faith? When one hopes, what is one hoping “to”? If you are hoping for a new job – who are you hoping will bring it to you? Can hope exist without a "Higher Power"? Is that hope you're hoping for just a hope in oneself? Ones own abilities?
Or is hope, in fact, just something someone says? A catch phrase?
In "Human, All Too Human", philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had this to say about hope:
Hope. Pandora brought the jar with the evils and opened it. It was the gods' gift to man, on the outside a beautiful, enticing gift, called the "lucky jar." Then all the evils, those lively, winged beings, flew out of it. Since that time, they roam around and do harm to men by day and night. One single evil had not yet slipped out of the jar. As Zeus had wished, Pandora slammed the top down and it remained inside. So now man has the lucky jar in his house forever and thinks the world of the treasure. It is at his service; he reaches for it when he fancies it. For he does not know that that jar which Pandora brought was the jar of evils, and he takes the remaining evil for the greatest worldly good--it is hope, for Zeus did not want man to throw his life away, no matter how much the other evils might torment him, but rather to go on letting himself be tormented anew. To that end, he gives man hope. In truth, it is the most evil of evils because it prolongs man's torment.
Do you see Hope as an Evil? I don’t. Quite to the contrary of Nietzsche’s statement, I see the loss of hope as evil.
I believe Emily Dickinson said it best when she wrote:
"Hope is the thing with feathers- That perches in the soul- And sings the tunes without the words- And never stops- at all."
Here’s to hoping for a wonderful day, and beautiful tomorrows.
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