Core Decorum: “Hope”

Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang.

It can be easy when confronted with difficulties in various aspects of life to fall into despair. Especially in a deeply Christian environment like the University of Dallas, it can be all too easy to despise our sins or shortcomings and give up. However, character is tested by tribulation. The times that we struggle are the most important in which to hold on to hope.

When hope is shaken, other goods can quickly tumble after. Virtues do not exist in isolation. True faith is tenuously held unless joined to hope that mercy will overcome all the ways in which we and this world fall short.  

Endurance against the harshness of this world is hope, a refusal to become jaded or carry the worries of this world too heavily. We cannot live freely otherwise. If we focus on the worst aspects of life, we allow ourselves to be victims of them instead of enjoying even what little of goodness there may be.

Neither life nor nature can be defined by their harshness. The presence of difficulty cannot be denied, but does not negate the bountifulness of nature or life. Difficulty can enhance our appreciation of their gifts. Because we have to work hard to produce anything, our accomplishments are more meaningful to us. Gratitude for profit is discovered in the labor.

We live in a time of great uncertainty. Many believe that we will walk on Mars, cars will learn to drive themselves and robots will overtake the human race within the next hundred years. Perhaps these things are true. I don’t know.

Hope is not surety of constantly good conditions, but trust in goodness and our ability to preserve.

T.S. Eliot wrote: “The only hope, or else despair / Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre.” It may not necessarily be the condition that one has the ability to change, but rather one’s approach to it.

Another Thomas (a Kempis) says “all our power of sight is not without some blindness.” While this is true, we do not have to be miserable in our inability to see everything. In a certain way, our inability to see ahead offers some freedom from accountability for those things. We can make provision as best we can, but that is all that we need to do.

We cannot see what roads are at our feet. The future could take a turn any day. It is impossible to measure where we are in life’s journey. We cannot look too far back or forwards but we can see clearly that we are here, at least for now, and maybe that is enough.


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