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Enterprise Journal

Column: 'Hope is not a feeling, it's a virtue'

Sep 14, 2020 02:24PM ● By Kurt Meyer

Hope. We all have it, although sometimes it’s in rather scant supply. I want these next paragraphs to be about hope. Even more, I want your take-away to be a greater sense of hopefulness… about life, about the world, about trends we all might follow.

Like the weather, we often cite hope without much ability to influence the outcome, with comments like, “Boy, I sure hope so,” or “Hope springs eternal!” – and, sometimes without ever using the word, as in “From your lips to God’s ears.” All three expressions are favorites of mine.

I admit being a congenital optimist, more hopeful than most, maybe significantly so. I contend that changes – no, make that IMPROVEMENTS – I have seen and benefited from in the last six decades support this attitude. I realize I’m writing this at an unusually stormy time, characterized by devastation, destruction, and disease, making it difficult to see the rainbow. Oh, but it’s there!

For example… brilliant scientists are at work creating a new vaccine to overcome the pandemic, the cause of almost 200,000 American deaths. We don’t yet know details about when an inoculation will be safe, effective, and available. It takes time, more than we’d like, but it WILL happen in the foreseeable future.

Awful wildfires ravaging the west coast are stories we seemingly encounter annually. Increased frequency and severity are a reminder that some of this uptick is rooted in climate change, a challenge we’ve not yet solved. But we will, eventually. I am hopeful (that concept again) that it won’t be too late.

There are not enough column inches in this newspaper to address fully issues related to the economy, rarely as robust as we’d like, or to racial strife, a persistent societal challenge. While there are occasional glimmers of progress, clearly we’ve not arrived at comprehensive solutions here.

So, why the hope? Because without hope, we’re done; the battle is over. And we lost. In all the aforementioned struggles, our opponent is not an Evil Axis (meaning people wishing us harm) but semi-elastic limits of talent, resources, time, priorities, and of marshalling our collective national will.

Powerful forces of apathy and pessimism are always with us. To prevail, we must be stronger!

An eloquent observation by columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr, writing in the Washington Post last weekend: “Hope is not a feeling. It’s a virtue. We have good reason to practice it right now – and no alternative but to embrace it.”

Several days after these humble scribblings of mine appear, Dionne will be honored by Americans for Democratic Action, a national organization founded in 1947 by Eleanor Roosevelt among others, which I now serve as Chair of the Executive Committee. I’m thrilled that we’re awarding Dionne ADA’s first-ever James Wechsler “Integrity in Journalism” Award. (Wechsler was editor of The New York Post and a prominent voice of American liberalism for four decades, beginning in the 1940s.)

Unfortunately, this is a virtual event this year, meaning I won’t be spending time with “the greats and the near-greats” in DC, although I anticipate seeing familiar faces on the computer screen. While I vastly prefer showing up in person, this year’s event may be another source of hope: that even in the midst of a pandemic, people of common purpose can gather through technology to honor a distinguished thinker/writer.

The act of sharing a few words on paper or via computer is one of great hopefulness. Columnist Dionne does this extraordinarily well in the conviction that thoughts communicated effectively can and do make the world a better place. It’s a timely reminder that hope springs eternal.

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