Where there is Hope, there is at least one good feeling that can guide people – including yourself – through the direst situations.
Hope makes one less vulnerable while keeping sensitivity and Compassion alive.
Hope versus hope
It’s not altogether an easy distinction.
As with any other ‘deep’ concept, hope can be meant and understood more at the surface, or deep, or really deep. It makes a big difference. At the same time, it’s subtle. [see: “Subtlety“]
Let’s put hope on one side of the spectrum and Hope on the other side. You already guess which is which.
A conceptual hope is a hope that something concrete will come. As in: “I hope that it will rain tomorrow.” or, why not: “I hope that I will be reborn as a Buddhist monk.”
You may hope to win the lottery; you may Hope to keep your ‘soul’ (or deep meaningfulness) while doing so.
A lot of hope is needed if Hope has gone.
So, better keep Hope. Hope keeps alive, while hope may only keep one living close to despair. Something happens; hope falls; enter despair and anxiety, even panic. In COVID, one sees the whirlpool turning. [see: “COVID-Whirlpool”]
There is also a leader’s responsibility in this. An Open Leader [see: “Open Leadership”] knows the difference and can work with it, instilling Hope. People are grateful for such. Without any Hope, they may be grateful for a bit of hope like an addict who is thankful for getting his drug but knows better deep inside.
You see: the mere hope-giver – without any Hope – is close to being despised at any turn of the situation. Every day, he’s a hero for just one day.
Hopeless versus hope-less
In the former, there is no hope. All hope is lost. The future is bleak. If all Hope is also lost, we are close to depression, if not right into it.
Hope-less is a meditative attitude. Or, if you want, a ‘parallel’ attitude. [see: “What is ‘Parallel’?”] It indicates there is no dire need for hope. The hope-less person can be serene without hope. He may have a profound Hope that immunizes him to any hopeless situation. It’s always OK.
The enlightened Zen-monk may be totally hope-less and have Hope even in the direst situation. The rest of us may not attain this feat of mental top-sport, yet strive for it – by afar – and, who knows, even slightly feel it. Formal meditation may help.
Hope and fear
“I fear that I will be reborn as a cockroach, not as a monk. But I still hope I will be a monk.” OK, not necessarily my words.
This may clarify: hope is to Hope as fear is to anxiety. [see: “Difference between Fear and Anxiety”]
In COVID times, we need Hope more than ever.
Sure, one may hope. Nothing against it, unless this urge to hope makes one blind to an obvious future. In that case, it is a denial that keeps one afloat until panic arrives. Meanwhile, this denial stops one from taking the necessary precautions. The result may be disastrous.
It strikes me that in COVID times, many people hope in a way that is not far removed from denial. Making the distinction of this blog text may help them to find more inner strength.
On the other side, indeed, many communications in the media, social and other, take away Hope and instill anxiety, sometimes with the good intention to ‘keep people distanced.’ Readers know that I much prefer other ways of motivation. Instilling anxiety is the last thing one should do.
So, hope is OK, but don’t cling to it. Such clinging might make you vulnerable. Even more, giving others unwarranted hope is also not a good thing to do. If hope falls from a height, it hurts more. So, indeed, if you know the situation is dire, just say so.
Say it with Compassion.
This lifts people to some level of Hope. It depends from person to person, but in general, you do an excellent thing with this.
Indeed, you need Hope yourself to be able to give it to others. This may be one of the reasons why people may flock to religious ministers rather than to scientists. The latter often don’t get it. Even so, they really should, because we’re not talking non-science now. Hope is not readily graspable, but not therefore irrational. Many scientists make a huge mistake in this.
The whole of medical science needs more of this.
Without Hope, Compassion may dwindle.
In a society without Hope, the sick and the vulnerable may be seen more and more as dispensable, especially in a situation of huge stress such as we are living in now. The question gets raised as to whether and to what degree they are worth the trouble. There are many ways in which this question can be made palatable. But still, it’s very insipid.
For instance, ‘Quality-Adjusted Life Years’ (QALYs) in health economics: number-of-years multiplied by life-quality. As a matter of fact, the elderly have fewer QALYs in the balance. The calculation is pretty straightforward. The result is as illogical as it is inhuman, non-Compassionate. Think about it: it is the dying that counts (over a few hours, months, years), not the being-dead. If you are dead a bit longer, you don’t even know. If one is living, one wants to live. In principle, this can be the same at twenty and eighty.
It is the dying that counts, and the feeling cared for while dying.
QALYs do a bad job in this, even from a distance.
Side-tracking: A U.S. marine never leaves behind a wounded one, even at the peril of his own life. Eventually, I see behind this the same principle.
The story is different if the one of eighty wants to die for the sake of the one of twenty. There is an immensely beautiful movie about this (The Ballad of Narayama, S. Imamura, 1983). But if the one of eighty wants to live, he has as much right to it as anyone.
Hope is not a term in any summation.