The Audacity of Hope
February 23, 2008
In the past few months I have been reminded by many that hoping for a thing does not make it true. Watching the US Presidential Election I have heard the same theme emerge as Hilliary Clinton attempts to question Barack Obama’s ability to convert lofty and eloquent speeches into real change. I even posted a Seesmic video about it recently.
The question I have, though, is if hope does not make something happen, then what does?
Doesn’t all action involve hope? Is not hope a key ingredient for change?
Before one can achieve a thing, they must first imagine it. Before they act on their imagining they must first dare to hope that they could actually have some impact on the outcome.
Even decisions made based on fear involve a hope to avoid that which we fear.
Hope is a powerful driving force. It enables us to act. Without hope, we are often paralyzed.
Most people I talk to who ‘wish’ they could do something better, or more ambitious, have a common refrain. They dare not hope that their more lofty goals are attainable. They therefore do not act.
Imagine if you could gather a large enough group of people to hope for the same outcome. If you had the right mix of participants and the right critical mass, is there anything that hope, followed by action, can not achieve?
Criticizing hope is actually a thinly veiled claim of naivety or unjustified idealism. If one’s hopes are too big, too ambitious or too lofty, then surely they must be too naive to understand the complexity of the issue and the magnitude of the challenge ahead.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe those who start with hope and push for change have not yet been sufficiently jaded by a broken system or violent resistance to their ideas.
Maybe, though, if those idealistic and naive people (if in fact they are those things) can somehow encourage others to hope, and then still others; maybe, just maybe, hope will turn into action, and action will turn into real change.
To paraphrase the West Wing… “Do you think a small group of dedicated people can change the world” “Of course, it’s the only thing that ever has”.
Hope is not empty. It can never be false. Hope, well expressed and shared, is the beginning of something new.
Dare to hope. Then act.