Hope is an integral part of human nature and as varied as the world itself. You hear it expressed in many ways, "I hope tomorrow will be sunny" or "I hope to arrive on time" or again, "I hope my baby will be healthy". Hope, in its widest sense, is described as the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it." (Cath. Encyclopedia) The object of hope is the good and as such is an act of the will which looks toward the future for the realization of some good. Hope expresses the awareness of contingency in life, that is, the realization what happens in life is not only dependent on what I do but also on other events of life. Man needs hope because hopelessness leads to destruction and death.
I came across on the web a column by Ye Qinfa which illustrates hope and the wisdom inherent in human nature.
In 206 BC Cao Cao, a great Chinese statesman led his army to attack the city of Huguan. Because the city was strategically located Cao's army could not take it despite great effort. Cao became angry and declared: "Once I get into the city, I will have all those in it buried alive." When Cao's words reached the city, its defenders increased their resistance. So, Cao consulted his generals. General Cao Ren rose from his seat and said: "The art of war tells us that we should not put the enemy in too tight a ring, that the enemy should be left a way to survive." He further pointed out that the city without hope would fight to its death. He said, "If we now give them a ray of hope by leaving an opening in the ring, they are likely to surrender to us, for they would rather survive than fight to death for nothing." Cao Cao saw the wisdom of this strategy and ordered that it should be done. Soon the city's defending troops crossed over to Cao's side and the city was taken without a cruel fight.
Please click CHORUS IMAGE to hear Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears by Elizabeth (www.youtube.com/littlesirishangel)
It is a beautiful expression of the Irish Hope in the New Land and the sadness they experienced in leaving their homeland.
So, why is it that we look forward to a better tomorrow? Because we are made for a better world, a world which transcends our natural desires, a world which will satisfy all our natural hopes, a world in which the Good will be attained for all eternity. This is why hope is the dynamic and driving force of our souls.
Paradoxically, suicide is an act of despair and also of hope. The individual sees no hope in this life but imagines that his or her state after death will be better. This is an illusory hope because not based on reality.
Pope Benedict XVI expresses the inadequacy of our natural hopes as follows:
by day, man experiences many greater or lesser hopes, different in kind according
to the different periods of his life. Sometimes one of these hopes may appear
to be totally satisfying without any need for other hopes. Young people can
have the hope of a great and fully satisfying love; the hope of a certain
position in their profession, or of some success that will prove decisive
for the rest of their lives. When these hopes are fulfilled, however, it becomes
clear that they were not, in reality, the whole." (Benedict
XVI, SPE SALVI, #30)