Sunday Best – October 23, 2016



Years ago, I was lucky to hear the legendary Rev. Prof. Peter Gomes reference a distinction that Vaclav Havel made between hope and optimism. I recall Rev. Gomes noting that optimism was not really so useful, since optimism could be crushed in the face of failure. But hope, he said, was a much deeper, enduring thing.

This week, I finally looked up Havel’s original context. Here are some excerpts from The Politics of Hope:

Hope is a state of mind, not a state of the world.

Hope, in this deep and powerful sense,

is not the same as joy that things are going well,

or willingness to invest in enterprises that are

obviously heading for success,

but rather an ability to work for something

because it is good.

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism.

It is not the conviction that something will turn out well,

but the certainty that something makes sense,

regardless of how it turns out.


Yes, I am usually optimistic. And yes, sometimes that optimism is crushed.

But beyond that optimism, I am always hopeful.

Whatever your endeavors, big or small, easy or impossible, may they be hopeful.

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