The Meaning and Power of Hope

Hopeful people at Peace Pentagon

Mythology tells a poignant tale about hope in the story of Pandora and her box. This story reveals how Zeus sought to punish mankind for accepting the gift of fire from Prometheus. Fueled by his displeasure, he ordered Hephaestus to create a beautiful but curious woman (Pandora), whom he offered in marriage to Prometheus’ brother and presented with a wedding present: a box that she was warned never to open. Of course, Pandora’s curiosity was intended to get the better of her, and open the box she did, as Zeus knew she would. Out of that box flew all the horrible things that distress mankind – greed, envy, hate, disease, pain, hunger – Zeus' punishment unleashed. Recognizing her mistake, Pandora hastened to close the box, but it was too late. All the evils within had already been released. The only thing left in the box was hope.

Hope is a controversial word. When we think about hope, what comes to mind? From where does our hope arise, how do we relate to it, and to what end is it utilized in our lives? Is hope a feeling? A state of being? A resource? An action?

These were just some of the thoughts and questions shared among us last Friday at the Oracle Spirituality & Singing Salon. Led by our friends Craig Green and Cleo Keller, the group was immersed in poetry, song, and discussion as we examined the phenomenon of hope – this thing that springs eternally in the human heart, this persistence of human spirit that carries us ever forward, a spark within us that refuses to be extinguished.

Hope is something that is innate to us all, an attunement to possibility, a force of nature that allows us to refuse to accept the unacceptable, to have the courage to create a different reality than the one before us. But hope is something that can wither as much as it can flourish. Hopelessness can consume us, and what then? In what ways are we cultivating hope in our lives, and affirming it in the lives of others? How can we confront hopelessness when it consumes us, our friends and family? As the Interfaith Coordinator for The Oracle Institute, sometimes I think Oracle’s Mission is, at its very core, a venture in hope. We do what we do because we have hope in humanity, in the virtue of the human spirit and mankind’s ability to cultivate change. We also have hope for the future, for a better world made possible by active engagement. And we have hope that the efforts of even one soul can make a difference, that collectively the impacts of our efforts are amplified.

But that cannot happen unless hope is translated into action. We cannot simply pray for what we want or need. We must also be willing to put in the work to see those wants or needs realized. And we recognize that we cannot do it all on our own. At Oracle, we aspire to encourage hope in others so that we may collaborate and co-create with them to manifest our collective hopes as a new reality, a more beautiful world.

Whether hope exists as a whisper or as a roar, it is one of the most valuable resources available to us. What we do with it – and to it – matters. Take care to nurture it, in yourself and in others. And use it wisely and well.

What is the seed of your highest hope? And how might the way you live your life be an expression of that highest hope, whatever it may be?