Deborah Oyine Aluh

It is my first post of the year, so why not embark on a journey of hope? Whether you are longing for a fresh start or seeking solace in uncertain times, join me on this journey as we explore the complexities of hope and its impact on our lives.

Hope is a powerful and complex emotion that can shape our lives in profound ways. It fuels our dreams and aspirations, giving us the motivation to strive for a better future. However, hope can also be a double-edged sword, leading to disappointment and despair when our expectations are not met.

Throughout history, hope has played a significant role in the lives of individuals and societies. It has been the driving force behind great achievements, inspiring people to overcome great obstacles and pursue their dreams. Hope propelled Nelson Mandela to fight apartheid and has often been the driving force behind revolutionary movements striving for freedom. “The audacity of hope,” as Barack Obama eloquently phrased it, enabled him to pave the way as the first African American President of the United States. Unwavering hope for freedom is the reason why Andy Dufresne, the protagonist in “The Shawshank Redemption,” was able to endure over 27 years of wrongful imprisonment. It was hope for liberation that kept Viktor Frankl and other victims of the Holocaust bearing unimaginable suffering and hardship.

In our daily lives, hope is the driving force that empowers us to face adversity with resilience and determination. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hope was the beacon that guided you and I through the darkest days. It was hope that made us believe in the possibility of a brighter future, where the virus would no longer hold us captive. Hope inspired us to follow safety protocols, adhere to social distancing measures, and endure lengthy periods of lockdowns, knowing that the sacrifices brought us closer to a healthier and safer world. Hope whispers in our ears, assuring us that our hard work and dedication will be rewarded and that a brighter and more fulfilling life lies ahead. When we find ourselves at rock bottom, hope reminds us that it is not the end. Hope kindles the fire within us, urging us to persevere against all odds, for the best is yet to come.

But how do we balance hope in the face of unattainable dreams or seemingly unrealistic expectations? Is there a point at which we should stop hoping? Are there truly hopeless situations? While the idealist in me adamantly claims there is no such thing as a hopeless situation and that hope should be limitless, the pragmatist in me recognizes that such circumstances may exist. As hope is inherently a subjective experience, what may seem utterly hopeless to one person could be a glimmer of possibility for another.

Hope is often celebrated as the driving force that leads to positive outcomes, but let’s be honest, life doesn’t always work out that way. So, what do we do when our hopes are dashed? The consequences of shattered hopes can be incredibly devastating. In Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” he recounts the heartbreaking tale of one of his fellow prisoners in the concentration camp who desperately hoped for the war to end on a specific date. Sadly, when that didn’t happen, he passed away the next day. Another example is the British explorer Robert Scott, who led an expedition to become the first person to reach the South Pole, only to find out that the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen’s team had succeeded 34 days earlier. The disappointment of his dashed hopes was intensified by the grueling journey back, where he and his companions perished due to extreme weather conditions and sheer exhaustion.

While it may be tempting to succumb to despair when our hopes are shattered, it is important to recognize that hope, in its truest form, goes beyond mere optimism. True hope is not solely dependent on specific outcomes but rather on the belief that, even in the face of disappointment, there are valuable lessons to be learned and new opportunities to be explored. When our hopes are dashed, it is a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of life. We can also view dashed hopes as brief detours on the larger road to success. History is replete with examples of people who faced numerous setbacks and failures before ultimately achieving greatness.

In a world that often feels uncertain and unpredictable, hope can be a guiding light. It can give us the strength and resilience to keep moving forward, even when the odds seem stacked against us.  As we enter this new year, let us hold onto hope, but let us also temper it with realism. Let us strive for a better future while also preparing ourselves for the inevitable challenges ahead.

I leave you with this poem from one of my favorite TV shows.

Hope is what gets you out of bed in the morning when it’s the day of prom and you haven’t been asked.
Hope pushes the caterpillar through the cocoon and drives the salmon upstream.
Your breasts may be small, and your glasses may be thick, but hope doesn’t hold up a mirror.
Hope is a horizon we head for, leaving nothing behind us but fear.
And though we may never reach our goals, it’s hope that will save us from who we once were.

                                                                                                    Family Guy (1999) – S09E08


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