The frequency with which the word “hope” is used in our everyday conversations shows the extent to which hope is incorporated into our culture and its importance and high value in our society.
In 2018, April was designated the National Month of Hope as part of a national awareness campaign by a non-profit group called Mothers in Crisis. Their goal was to encourage others to “think hope” and “make hope connections” in order to help families live drug-free lives. That hope campaign has grown and has become a powerful movement “of individuals joining forces and becoming citizens of hope in their own communities across the country.” This year’s slogan is “I would rather hope.”
The word “hope” comes from the Latin word “cupio” meaning “to desire or wish well,” but almost two hundred years ago, hope was distinguished from wishing. The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defined hope as “a desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.” This definition is reinforced by the Old English word for “hope,” hopa, meaning “confidence in the future.” Similarly, the Greek and Hebrew equivalent words for hope mean “confident expectation.”
Almost every language has a word for hope, and hope is found in all cultures.
It has been depicted in ancient art, in great literature, and in every religion across millennia. Yet, we often have a difficult time defining and understanding hope. We now know that hope is an emotion and that it is individually determined. One useful definition is that “hope is a way of thinking, feeling, and acting.”
April, the month that officially begins spring is the perfect time to celebrate hope. Spring is the season of rebirth and new beginnings. As a result, through the ages, nature has been linked to hope.
Many people seek hope in nature. The first pussy willow, daffodil, or robin lifts their spirit. Others find meaning and hope in natural phenomena like rainbows, stars, forests, and oceans. If nature is important to you, try to get outdoors and visit favorite spots every chance you can. Something as simple as watching the sun replace a dark night may be enough of a hope enhancer to help someone get through a difficult day. When you take the time to enjoy it, nature may become an important part of your hope maintenance plan.
During the remaining days of National Month of Hope and beyond, make it your mission to be an advocate of hope.
Hope is a powerful force. It can change situations and lives. We have the ability to lend hope and transfer it to others. We can model hope, spread it, and teach it. It’s up to us to become hope bearers, educators, and hope leaders. Together we can begin a much-needed hope revolution. I would add that the single most important thing that each of us can do for ourselves and for others is to always choose hope over hopelessness.
Happy National Month of Hope!