Humanity may believe that its greatest need is for air, water, food for its survival. But meaningful human survival is not truly built on any of these, which most would agree are “essentials.” Rather, our human lives are truly built on the real essential of HOPE. This is more than a simplistic definition of desires and ambitions, but a meaningful hope that guides us in our search for our identity, purpose, and meaning in our lives and society.
Humanity needs a reason to survive, beyond momentary survival instincts. The reasons may differ by individual, their nature, nurture, and values. But diverse human beings share the essential of hope for humanity as sentinent beings who perceive, reason, think, and are aware of our lives and our world.
Society’s efforts to organize led to the creation of many sets of rules and standards from the Magna Carta to modern day ethics and human rights standards. Sentinent beings face struggles and challenges. As they struggle for their identity and meaning in life, it is the power of hope to give them the courage and mercy towards themselves and others.
In the 20th Century, the grave horrors of war and genocide led to a new appreciation for this essential of hope, not just as individuals, but also for our “human family.” On December 10, 1948, 48 nations of the new United Nations agreed on a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, respecting the “dignity” and merciful “brotherhood” for the “human family” as a global need for our societies. This was a historical milestone in human organization in seeking something more than simply rules or codes for one another, but also recognizing that we seek to view one another with mercy and dignity – for all human beings.
This small step in the expansion of societal consciousness led us to another growth in hope itself, expanding individual hope to also respect societal hope, even hope for our shared “human family.” Despite seeing what many would have called the “worst” of humanity, global leaders called for the audacity to hope for change in humanity itself. The expansion of consciousness in hope for ourselves and our society must be founded in jutice, mercy, and compassion, as we have seen too often what the American human rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described in 1958 as the “glaring reality of collective evil.”
With the essential of hope not only for ourselves, but also for our society, we continue to seek growth and self-determination as individual human beings and in our societies. The world has been blessed with many leaders that have sacrificed to set examples of justice, mercy, compassion, honesty, and nonviolence as pathways in working towards such hope for our “human family.”
This change in the essential of hope is not without challenge or pain. While individuals struggle over hope for their individual identity and meaning, we find an increasing need for hope in our society “human family’s” ability to find a collective identity and meaning. This brings angst to many as society may be beyond individual influence, but many feel the need to still work towards the hope for a meaningful, merciful, and just society.
Many find encouragement and strength in hope by seeking faith-based or value-based aspirations both for themselves and their society. But whatever our path in hope may be, the reality is that the essential of hope is not something our sentinent society can relinquish. Such hope, especially in difficult times, may be the most valuable, most essential part of our lives, to give us courage to continue.
With hope, we also find disappointment, not only individually, but also as a society. Many of our social struggles are based on how to manage and channel this disappointment in our hopes for justice, equality, liberty, and compassion within ourselves and in our societies.
When we find frustration, discouragement, and disappointment in pursuing our path of hope for ourselves and our society, it is vital to reflect on the context of our positive achievements. Our journey deserves the opportunity to remember such achievements. We look to those who have overcome obstacles for inspiration. Most importantly, we must refuse to accept powerless over the challenges to our essential need for hope. The smallest acts, considered “routine” or “trivial,” may be the steps for ourselves and our society that make a difference.
Both as individuals and as a society of a “human family,” we will know that, despite our best efforts, we will find hopes that will be unfulfilled. But we can choose to view such “unfufilled dreams” as either a tragedy, or as the building of a path and opportunity for those who will come after us. The only true tragedy would be to abandon the essential of hope itself. Dreams will live on. Infinite hope will live on. We must continue to choose to be part of that arc of infinite hope, long after our time on Earth is gone.
Over fifty years ago, the great American human rights and nonviolence leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provided guidance on such struggles with hope and disappointment. He stated: “The answer lies in developing the capacity to accept the finite disappointment and yet cling to the infinite hope.” He continued to share this message with the American public of balancing disappointment and hope in seeking social change, and urging them to reject bitterness, violence, and hate.
The human heart’s capacity to be filled with infinite hope is a shining light, even in our darkest hours.
That hope is essential in defining who and what we will become.
We must recognize hope as an essential quality for our survival, and find the courage to accept constant disappointments and unfinished dreams as part of our human experience. Our journey of hope, both as individuals and as a society, is the true accomplishment.
We “keep hope alive” because it is hope that keeps both our soul and body alive. The human persistence on hope for progress, peace, justice, and compassion is what gives our human family its greatest definition and it’s most noble history.
Our essential journey of hope is also our greatest destination, as human beings and as a society.
(…for dearest RH)