Hope is not about empty promises but a living faith. We live life as long as we have a hope to live. Leaders always are hope dealers— they not only have a vision full of opportunities for themselves but they speak them into people’s lives. When I visited and interviewed one of the inmates who faced a life sentence and spent twenty five years of his life in prison, I asked him on what kept him alive all these years? His answer was “ Hope”. Craigen further mentioned, “ Most people on my floor committed suicide because they saw no future for themselves other than spending their entire lives inside these small cells; but for me hope was what kept me alive.” When I asked what he means by that, he said, “ That one day somehow I will make it out of here.” Interestingly, Craigen case got overturned and now he is waiting to go through trial again and meanwhile has been moved to a county jail with much less restrictions. Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty seven years of his life in South Africa’s Prison to fight justice for African Americans mentions in his book, Long Walk to Freedom, how important hope is, “ Hope is a powerful weapon, and the one that no one on earth can deprive you of.”
There is a story about two men at the hospital who shared the same room. One man got a seat close to the room’s window while the other was handicapped and laid on his back. The two men immediately connected and began talking for a considerable length of time. They discussed their work, kids and spouses. One day the man on the opposite side of the window, communicated how lucky the man close to the window is. From that day, the man close to the window began portraying a great picture of the outside for the man. The window revealed a dazzling park with a lake. Ducks played on the lake while kids cruised their model pontoons. Youthful lovers hug affectionately intertwined in the midst of blossoms of each shading and a fine perspective on the city horizon could be found out yonder. The man on the other bed started to live for those one hour where he could hear and envision the world outside the emergency clinic room. The one hour of consistently would widen expanded his reality and animated by all the movement and shade of the world outside.
Days and weeks went by and the man’s vision was replacing his sight of just staring at his room’s ceiling .One morning, a nurse showed up to inspect the state of the two patients. She found the dead body of the man by the window. The man had calmly passed away in his sleep and the nurse called the clinic specialists to remove the body.
The other man was really saddened by the passing of his new friend. As the day passed by he began missing the time when the man described the amazing life outside the window. Due to his desire to look outside, the man asked the nurse if he can be moved to the bed next to the window. The nurse happily made the switch. When he was agreeable in his new bed, the man gradually and horrendously propped himself to investigate the world outside.He was shocked what he saw outside the window was just a plain wall. The man asked the nurse, ”There is nothing to see from here. Where are for the most part the brilliant things he saw? Did they just build this wall?” He asked. The nurse responded, "Maybe he simply needed to empower you and fulfill you. Your roommate was in fact blind".
The story of the two men in the hospital and the hope the blind man provided for his roommate show great lessons about hope. When dealing with hope, we need to consider three facts:
1- A person without hope is dead: From Craigen who was on the death-row to Nelson Mandela who spent twenty seven years of his life to fight for freedom in prison all the way to the man in hospital, all they need was hope. One of the best ways to see if someone is going through a depression is by asking him or her about their future. When people are hopeless and see no point in their future, we can see signs that they are dealing with reality that is not pleasant to them. When we take hope away from people, we take away their mental health and a person lives as long as they have something to look forward to.
2- We can create hope for others by our good intentions and words: One of the theoretical orientation in psychology, Recovery Model, helps people to shift their focus from their challenges to opportunities by providing hope and a perspective of what future can hold up for them. Every human being, regardless of their past, carry something valuable within themselves that can brighten theirs and other’s worlds. Even though listening to people’s problems can be very healing, we can also use our words to build a new reality in people’s lives based on their true ability and potential. We can use art such as drawings, music and writings to create a new life in their mind and little by little help them be transformed in that image.
3- We need hope to create a better future: Concentrating just on problems or yesterday’s pains, don’t solve our challenges. Even though hope is not wishful thinking, but we need to have a positive, joyous picture of our tomorrow in order to change. Our mind is built in such a way where we can’t focus on two different images at the same time. If the image of our future is dark and hopeless, we keep creating it. In a way our mind is like an architect who builds our reality based on the information and vision it receives. Therefore, we need to constantly fill our minds and senses with the right information, activities and visions. Hope, therefore, can be a bright door in the midst of the darkness of our today’s world.
When we look deeper at hope, we realize that hope is not so much about our circumstances but our state of being. A person with a hope lives with a conviction, a strong belief that he or she is firmed in where they want to go and they think, speak and walk in that way right now as their reality. But like everything else in life, even hope will pass away and what is left is love that carries us into eternity. As Paul, one of the first century theologians mentioned in his letter, “ Now these three remain: Faith, hope and love but the greatest of these is love”. Without love, our hopes are void and empty; so are our promises. Therefore, we can have hope as long as we love and our constant question should be “ Am I loving enough today?”
Written & Copyrighted by Parsa Peykar
Graphic by Adrian B.