Hope is a Strategy

One of the favored maxims of the business world is “Hope is not a strategy.” But here we are in the season of hope, advent in the Christian calendar, the rededication of the temple celebrated by Hanukkah in the Jewish calendar, and the “oh my god when will it start to get light out again” in the lunar secular seasonal affective calendar. Inflation, political entropy, the pandemic flavors of the month, despair is on tap 24 hours a day. We could use some hope.

The hope is not a strategy command is meant to inspire planning and diligent toiling. Don’t just wait for the phone to ring, do something. Whatever. Anyone familiar with intercessional prayer, lucky pennies or the odd two-dollar quick pick lottery ticket knows that hope is a perfectly fine strategy. Sometimes the only strategy.

At the outset of her novel Run, Ann Patchett has Jesse Jackson speaking to the fact that suffering breeds character, character breeds faith and, in the end, faith will not disappoint. Reverend Jackson borrowing from the Book of Romans. [Oh, to be a character in an Ann Patchett novel.] In the great religions, “hope” is called “faith” and those who have it are celebrated. The opposite of faith we are told is not doubt but certainty. Algebraically solving for hope, reveals that it differs not at all from faith. Faith and hope are both qualities to be esteemed and nurtured. Without them the human condition is unnecessarily limiting and more difficult to endure.

My priest this week, quoting Ted Lasso, started Advent by metaphorically asking us to put our hands up and touch the “Believe” sign in the A.C. Richmond locker room. It is dark out and there are a lot of things outside the room that make us afraid of the future, but it has been given to us to hope. We can hope. We should do so.

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