Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hope: Definition

If I say I am lacking in hope, what does that really mean?  What is hope anyway?

Let's take a short ride on the Bus of Knowledge:

Hope: From the Old English hopian, akin to Middle High German hoffen (to hope)

(Well, that's not very exciting - other than an interesting footnote that hope in the English language is not descended from Latin, French, or Greek).

How about a definition?

1)  Verbal:  to cherish a desire with anticipation; to desire with expectation of obtainment; to expect with confidence

2)  Noun:  a desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment; expectation of fulfillment or success.

Okay, now we're getting somewhere.

Look at the words that repeat themselves above:  desire, expect/expectation; obtainment (fulfillment's the same thing).  Simply put, hope is something that we desire, cherish, or expect to be fulfilled, obtained or successful.

Those are pretty high expectations for a four letter word.  Cherish?  Desire?  These are highly personal words, words that speak of something springing deeply within us.  To disappoint something deeply personal is to be in a great deal of pain.

Suddenly I understand why the loss of hope is so devastating.  If I have no anticipation that something I cherish or desire (or even that prosaic word, expect) has any chance of being obtained or successful, what do I have to look forward to?  More of the same - or even a downward trend?

Again, let's be clear that the definition listed above is not simply enough to be accomplished.  Just because I cherish or desire something does not mean it will magically come to pass without effort.  Many people fall down at this point, believing that hope alone is sufficient to accomplish things.

What is it that we desire?  What is it that we cherish?  What is it that we hope for?

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