Sunday, May 25, 2014

What is Hope? Baby Don't Hurt Me

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." -1st Corinthians 13:13
It's possible to have plenty of conversations or posts or sermons or lessons about each of these three individually. I've sat through many regarding love, and had a couple conversations regarding faith. What does it mean to love someone or to have faith? But in light of the recent Superman, Spider-man, and X-Men movies, hope has been on my mind.

I asked a friend why these movies insist on drilling home the idea of hope. Quickly, he answered with a hint of disbelief that I would even ask that question. That's what superheroes are. That's their whole thing. Bring hope to those in need. I had never thought of it that way. Heroes, to me, were more action based or, if they weren't, they were a standard to live up to (this is what being good looks like, kind of thing). I don't know. Hope was semi-foreign to me, or at least I thought it was.

Reading the definition provided in the link above sheds some clarity on the trouble I was having. The idiom referenced (hope against hope) really screwed with my interpretation of the word. I thought that kind of hope was core to real hope. I thought that hope was
1. the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best regardless of what the evidence suggests.
That's in line with the idiom, but it doesn't seem like it marries up with the actual concept of hope. Earned hope, or hope tallied because of something, I don't have any problem at all with that. That is not and has not been foreign to me. Poorly founded hope, hope that comes about because of an unskilled interpretation of evidence, I am also familiar with. Hoping in something you know isn't likely to occur though? That doesn't make sense.

So, maybe that's what superheroes (if they actually existed) are for. They are there to give us evidence that what we want can be had or that events will turn out for the best. Hoping that things will get better in Gotham without Batman? That's foolishness. Hoping that things will get better with Batman? Well, he's proven himself capable before.

I think, maybe, the reason I was confused about hope (other than the idiom) is because of the Bible verse sited above. It's right next to faith and love. Faith, I thought growing up, was the belief in something without evidence (though I don't hold to that definition anymore). Love? Love the unlovable. Love is most pure when given when there is no evidence that love is deserved.

Next to those two words, it makes sense that hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had when there is no evidence that it can be had, often times when there is evidence that it cannot be had. That seems more powerful to me. Hope against hope is more real than simple hope. It's perhaps more foolish as well, but has more of a stake in the real world.

Hope givers are there to give a reason to believe that everything is going to be okay. I guess I can see that being extremely valuable and worth basing an entire genre on. I think it's slightly disingenuous though. Everything's not going to be okay. Not that it's going to be all misery either, necessarily, but superheroes (in real life) supply a false hope, or attempt to.

I don't know. For myself, hope doesn't seem as valuable when there is evidence to support positive outcomes. That seems to me to be simply looking at how things are and predicting outcomes. My house is on fire. I am tense. I see the firetruck. I am relieved. It's natural. The firetruck brings hope, but the evidence based kind. The hope that all of my journals are going to be left completely intact, the unfounded hope, that seems like a feeling more worth writing about, rarer, filled with more mystery and shine.

It's dumber, sure, but in those kinds of situations I thought that's what people looked for. Solace, even if it is a tree rooted in magma.

Romantic love is written about often. This evidence based hope is written about often. I think, though, that  the more interesting aspects of hope and love, are the ones unbased. The ones where rationality is often sacrificed at the foot of hope or love, so that they may persist. So that we may persist.