“Finding Hope”

It’s just a four-letter word – a noun, a verb and can even be a name, yet it’s so hard to find and so easy to lose.

President Obama campaigned and won on “Hope.” There are currently two TV shows with the word “Hope” in the title and at least five that have been on in my lifetime. It’s what religious leaders preach about constantly, and yet, it often seems so elusive.

Benjamin Franklin once said “He who lives upon hope will die fasting.” while Emily Dickinson wrote in a poem:

“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all,”

I don’t think it’s a new concept that people in the U.S. are losing Hope in the powers that be who make final decisions about our laws, control our economy, and the systems that control that power. If you don’t know what I’m referring to, then you’ve been in a coma for the last 4-8 years. Jobs are scarce, people are paying more for necessities, yet making less money, working more hours, and yet they still can’t keep up. The standard of living that our parents and grandparents afforded is out of reach for most families, and the reality of that is widespread depression, alcoholism, domestic violence, divorce, crime, suicide, murder, and everything in between. What makes it especially hard is that those who are suffering the most seem to be the children. In 2009, one baby was born every hour addicted to prescription drugs. Three years later, and who knows the increase in that statistic. In 2010, the highest number of citizens with food insecurity was recorded in the U.S. When you think of the starving children, they sadly, are likely found in your own community.

It isn’t hard to figure out why people lose Hope after losing their jobs, their homes, their dreams and their futures. Those who can hold onto it and resist the temptation to drown their sorrows and despair in alcohol and drugs are usually the ones who have a lot of faith, but what exactly determines where that line falls between faith and despair?

My wife’s niece died on the 4th of July at the young age of 35 years, presumably from the effects of many years of active drug abuse and depression. Her death was likely accidental, this time, but her life was governed by addiction, and although surprising, her death was not unexpected. Many people had tried multiple times to help her, but the allure of the “high” was ever-present. Another casualty. Another child is left without a mother. Another wasted life.

I worry that my children will be the last generation to know Hope. They’ve been raised as by-products of parents born in the 60’s, when Hope was still alive and the ability to enact change was still a possibility that seemed within reach of the average citizen.

How are we able to counteract the results of the Republican stranglehold on the Congress and the ability to change the system that favors the wealthy and leaves the rest of the 99% to fend for themselves?

When I ran out of thoughts a moment ago and switched back to a Words with Friends game, the word my opponent had just played was “Hope.” I don’t really believe in coincidences, so I will take that as my cue to keep writing, or ranting, as my blog implies!

What does Hope mean to me? It’s a desire for people and things to be better, for love to win out over hate, for peace to persuade war that we can all live happily without fighting. It’s the desire to move through my life with enough, for myself and my kids, my friends and my neighbors, my town, my community, my State, and my Country, and the entire World! It’s about the “haves” helping the “have-nots” and not taking away from those who have suffered enough.

As I am writing, we are leaving soon to pick up our littlest girl after a week of sleepover camp. I’m guessing that after a week apart from all of us, she will be happy to see us. I know her moms will be overjoyed to see her! Getting the other two young ones to happily get up early and make the hour plus drive is the hard part, but after hammering home the concept of  “family” and “support” and “love for your sibling,” they have reluctantly agreed to remove the sourpuss attitudes. What I’d like to somehow infuse in their psyches is that all of what we “make” them do as children will hopefully be appreciated when they’re adults. I see that “sense of family” reflected in at least one of my older girls and know that it is there, but reflects more soberly in the other. I have gratitude that all of my ducklings will be safely nestled in known locations soon, and I desperately Hope that they will all cherish the security that we provide for them until they are able to swim (or fly) on their own!

My Hopes for our children are that through their own lives and experiences, they will always know that they are loved, and that they will do their part as healthy, happy human beings to extend multitudes of Hope and love to many other people so that the flame of Hope will not be extinguished!

* Author’s note- I know that Hope isn’t capitalized, but I Hope that you don’t mind that I did it anyway!

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