I was inspired to write about hope after replying to feedback I received on my post about GRIEF. I believe it is a great topic – not only for the beginning of a new year.
“To live without Hope is to Cease to live.” — Fyodor Dostoevsky
The word hope in the New Testament is from the Greek word elpis. According to Strong’s Concordance, elpis means expectation, trust, and confidence. It comes from the root word elpo, which means to anticipate (with pleasure) and to welcome.
The definition of hope:
: to cherish a desire with anticipation : to want something to happen or be true. hopes for a promotion. hoping for the best. I hope so. archaic : trust.
But let’s look back a little further and for that, I would like to share with you the story of Pandora’s box.
The story of Pandora’s box begins with the story of Zeus, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus were Titans but pledged their loyalty to Zeus and the Olympians, since Prometheus was born with the special power of prophecy and knew that Zeus would defeat the Titans. Zeus rewarded Prometheus and Epimetheus for their loyalty and gave them the job of creating the first creatures to live on Earth. Epimetheus formed the animals and gave each a special skill and form of protection. Prometheus took his time molding man, and was left with no forms of protection since Epimetheus had already given them all away. Prometheus knew man needed some form of protection and asked Zeus if he could let man have fire. Zeus refused. Fire was only for the gods. Prometheus ignored Zeus and gave man fire anyway. For this, Prometheus was punished. Zeus tied him with chains to a rock far away in the Caucasus Mountains where nobody would find him. Every day Zeus sent an eagle to feast upon Prometheus’ liver, which grew back every day so that Prometheus would have to endure this torture daily until Heracles found Prometheus and killed the eagle and let Prometheus go.
This torture wasn’t enough of a punishment for Zeus who also believed that humans should be punished for accepting the gift of fire from Prometheus. To punish man, Zeus created a woman named Pandora. She was molded to look like the beautiful goddess Aphrodite. She received the gifts of wisdom, beauty, kindness, peace, generosity, and health from the gods.
Zeus brought her to Earth to be Epimetheus’ wife. Even though Epimetheus’ brother, Prometheus, had warned him of Zeus’ trickery and told him not to accept gifts from the gods, Epimetheus was too taken with her beauty and wanted to marry her anyway.
As a wedding present, Zeus gave Pandora a box (in ancient Greece this was called a jar) but warned her never to open it. Pandora, who was created to be curious, couldn’t stay away from the box and the urge to open the box overcame her. Horrible things flew out of the box including greed, envy, hatred, pain, disease, hunger, poverty, war, and death. All of life’s miseries had been let out into the world. Pandora slammed the lid of the box back down. The last thing remaining inside of the box was hope. Ever since, humans have been able to hold onto this hope in order to survive the wickedness that Pandora had let out.
Of course, the real world is more complex than a Greek myth but like most myths, it is a wonderful allegory. We need hope to keep the balance and to keep evil at bay.
I truly believe that hope is something that drives us all in one way or another. Hope is what keeps us hanging on even when things may appear hopeless. It is what gives us the strength to fight against injustice, against illness, against evil, against bullies, against fear, for friendship, and of course, for love.
Hope is the beauty and the beast! That may sound somewhat contradictory, especially coming from a hopeless optimist like myself.
“Hope is like the sun, which, as we journey toward it, casts the shadow of our burden behind us.” — Samuel Smiles
If you look at the story of Pandora, you might be inclined to think that hope could be dubbed evil itself. I do believe we need to differentiate between hope and wishful thinking. Hoping for things that cannot possibly happen is indeed rather stupid and in my perception belongs in the category of wishful thinking. But hoping for things that can happen is smart and good, assuming we are motivated by our optimism to act in ways that make the hoped-for thing more likely. For me, hope goes hand in hand with believing in good things, having faith, and trust, and believing in love. Too sappy for your taste? Well, it’s only my personal take on hope. It’s the part where hope is the beauty.
Is there a dark side to hope? Can hope be or become a beast?
I know that many people are struggling desperately to keep up some hope these days. The past three years especially have not been about living for many, but about somehow surviving, and optimism, as well as hope, is dwindling into nothingness everywhere. The sadness in the world is becoming stronger and for many, it becomes harder to keep fighting it every day. They feel lost as if they do not belong in this world any longer. The souls feel like they are dying and withering, being fed with despair and hopelessness.
I would like to give you an example of how hope can be a real beast or a bitch, if you prefer.
“Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Imagine someone who is terminally ill. I realise it is a horrible example but to make my point it is the best one I can think of at the moment. So this person knows that he does not have long to live and has gone through the five stages of grief, having come to the stage of acceptance. This person has ordered all affairs and wants to live the remaining days in some peace. Now someone comes along giving hope for a cure. It is a false hope as there really is no cure. Nevertheless, this terminally ill person becomes hopeful again with the sudden possibility of a long life. When this hope is once again shattered, the grief and anger begin all over again – making hope a cruel beast. Hoping where there is no hope can be devastating. But hoping where there is hope is bliss. Joy and pain are simply inseparable.
Rarely in life have I lost hope but I will admit that I have come close, especially in the past three years. It is especially in times like these though, I believe that you can decide to be happy, you can decide to be hopeful. Does that sound naïve? Perhaps it is. It does not make me ignorant – as you can see in my special issues – it makes me an optimistic survivor. I still very much believe in good, love, and in kindness, and see the world as something full of beauty and wonder. Perhaps it is this ability that makes me see the ugliness and the cruelty just as much. Keeping the balance is challenging to say the least.
“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” — Joseph Addison
🎶My Song of the Week
Is a very beautiful one, filled with hope, by Barry Manilow – Somewhere Down The Road
📚My Poem of the Week
Is by Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Song Of Hope
O sweet To-morrow! – After to-day There will away This sense of sorrow. Then let us borrow Hope, for a gleaming Soon will be streaming, Dimmed by no gray – No gray! While the winds wing us Sighs from The Gone, Nearer to dawn Minute-beats bring us; When there will sing us Larks of a glory Waiting our story Further anon – Anon! Doff the black token, Don the red shoon, Right and retune Viol-strings broken; Null the words spoken In speeches of rueing, The night cloud is hueing, To-morrow shines soon – Shines soon!
I just love ❄️
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Wishing you an amazing weekend filled with love and hope! I would love to hear your take on hope and what it means to you.