I believe that the greatest hope any of us can give the world is the hope we were created to give when we were made. God created a work of art. Each work of art has a message of hope inside it to give to the world. Nothing we do can erase that message of hope God planted in us when God created the work of art called "You." We have a responsibility, you and I, to know and embody the hope to which each of us has been created.
Arden K. Barden has written, "It is not the way we deal with our human situation that is the basis for hope...hope is the basis for how we deal with our human situation."
In his last Christmas Eve sermon, Martin Luther King Jr. preached about his dream having been turned into a nightmare in the church bombing in Birmingham, the increase in poverty during his lifetime and the war in Vietnam, which was then escalating. Then he said: "Yes, I am personally the victim of deferred dreams, of blasted hopes, but in spite of that I close tonight by saying I still have a dream, because you know, you cannot give up on life. If you lose hope, somehow you lose that vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you to go on in spite of all. And so today I still have a dream." (Martin Luther King, Jr., "A Christmas Sermon on Peace," The Trumpet of Conscience, p.76)
Windred Newman said: "There are no hopeless situations. There are only people who think hopelessly."
The reformer Martin Luther said 500 years ago, "Everything that is done in this world is done by hope."
What is the hope for which you were created?
Two things stand out in what I've learned so far about hope. The first is that from Martin Luther King to James Baldwin to Nelson Mandela to Desmond Tutu, they all refer to themselves, using one image or another, as "prisoners of hope." Cornel West in his wonderful book on the moral obligations of living in a democratic society, wrote: "To be part of the democratic tradition is to be a prisoner of hope. And you cannot be a prisoner of hope without engaging in a form of struggle in the present moment that keeps the best of the past alive. [Whether that struggle is a personal struggle with yourself, an interpersonal struggle with your friends, colleagues, or family members, or a struggle at the office, or a struggle on the political level.] To engage in that struggle means that one is always willing to acknowledge that there is no triumph just around the corner, but that you persist because you believe it is right and just and moral to persist. As T.S. Eliot said, 'Ours is in the trying. The rest is not our business.'" (West, Cornel, "The Moral Obligations of Living in a Democratic Society," The Good Citizen, p. 12)
Nelson Mandela on the power of hope