The Application of Hope

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Real hope provides a tangible and specific dimension in our lives.

The positive opportunities to navigate life and society are real and practical. The point is that ‘hope’ is not some floaty philosophical feeling that boosts our mood – but a society changing, community influencing, thought leading reality!

Let’s look at some aspects of this:

Art:  There is a whole movement of dark and hopeless art. This is justified in terms of “reflecting reality”. The mood conveyed is depressing and seems to show life at its worst. This approach to ‘art’ projects violence, anger, decay, emptiness and insanity. When one considers all that is possible in the world, this kind of art, whether it is a painting, song, or photograph, is surely not motivating people to rise to new heights and possibilities.

An alternative is to challenge and inspire. Art can be used to provoke people to do something, and rise above the failures and disappointments. Even decay and brokenness can be conveyed in a form that challenges us to respond and do something positive. Art can be inspiring and pointing to what life can be at its best.

Science:  When scientists and technologists approach their craft with a humanistic and hopeless framework, the technology and knowledge is simply a tool to control and take advantage. Technology without hope is crushing and degrades society. An example of this would be development of biological weapons, designed to kill and maim large numbers of civilians and used to create fear in the enemy population. A more mundane example would be the cynical use of modern technology that allows ordinary people to gamble on-line, spurred on by the rush of adrenaline and having their money drained from their family.

Alternatively innovation and creativity can be used to open possibilities and help people to be all they can be. Wonderful examples of this exist in medicine, such as computers that enable paralysed people to speak, or cures developed for cancers. Internet innovations that help people to track down long lost friends from school is another example of how technology can be positive in our frantic world.

When technologists are motivated with hope their energy is directed towards a goal that strengthens and helps people. Those without hope develop tools that kill, steal and destroy.

Government:  When leaders and rulers have hope that values people and the fear of God, their approach is constructive. An example was William Wilberforce. As a God fearing politician he knew that the African slave trade was an evil that should stop. He had a hope in the Kingdom of God and a genuine hope that Godly principles would prevail. In 1791 he presented his first bill before the British Parliament attempting to outlaw the slave trade. The bill was unsuccessful, losing by 163 votes to 88. With hope in the eternal and hope in what he believed to be the right action he persevered.  Year after year Wilberforce brought revised bills to the Parliament. Eventually in 1807 the bill he brought was passed by 114 votes to 15. He continued to campaign for existing slaves to be given their freedom. He died in July 1833 not having seen his passionate desire achieved. One month later the British Parliament passed a law giving all slaves in the British Empire their freedom. This is a great example of hope motivating a leader and a cause (read the biography of Wilberforce in Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas). It shows a man inspired and strengthened in his work by hope. It also reminds us that we don’t always see for ourselves in this life what we hope for, but it may happen anyway.

In contrast, President Idi Amin took power in Uganda in 1971 through a military coup. His wicked rule was without compassion for his people and society. Observers estimate that he oversaw the killing of between 300,000 and 500,000 people within his country. It was said that he enjoyed killing people, and that he even killed one of his own wives. What a powerful example of a ruler without hope as a motive and certainly not giving hope to his people.

Management:  Many of us have seen management that has no hope for eternal life and no sense of inspiration. This type of management simply uses people as resources. Staff are treated as numbers to be controlled, dominated and all outcomes are seen as dependent on human ability, and all results must be measurable in the ‘here and now’. This belief system, operating within a manager, is reflected in actions that use and abuse people as they all operate within an environment of hopeless pursuit of money, material results, and temporary glory.

Conversely, many of us have experienced leaders and leadership that has an eternal hope. Leaders who have hope in their own hearts and this reflects in a hope for others. This kind of leadership has optimism about people and a wider perspective on what is achieved, and confidence in what others could be. Their hope from within is contagious.

Family:  We live in an age when families and family life are under attack. Those families that have hope for the future are able to grow, develop and aspire to all kinds of possibilities. Parents’ marriages survive all kinds of pressures when they have hope beyond the conflict. Children see parents living in hope for what lies ahead and for a life that is more than just the present material age, and the children in turn, learn to deal with pressure and the trials of life. In this environment children grow in hope and this enables them to fulfill their potential as people; People who in turn spread hope in an otherwise hopeless world. A hope-filled family demonstrates and lives in healthy leadership, security, works towards meaningful goals, and sees fulfillment in life.

Judaeo-Christian hope is a shaping, defining, positive force which motivates, elevates and edifies individuals, groups, organisations and societies. Apply hope!

 

This post is a part re-publishing of the chapter written by John D Manwell: “Hope that makes a real difference” which was first published in the book “HOPE – when everything seems hopeless” by Thomas P. Dooley, Mall Publishing Co. ISBN 1-934165-20-4

(C) Thomas P. Dooley 2008.  Used with permission

 

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