Hope & Despair – Part 2

Hope & Despair – Part 2

Published On: April 20, 2020

We have stated that you cannot live with hope without despair nipping at its heels. So, the question arises, ‘How does one gently lean towards hope while resisting the gravity of despair?’


As humans, we are addicted to ‘certainty’. We want predictability in order to ‘feel safe’. For most of us feeling safe is more important than being safe. Some of us feel safe by only living in the present and spending our resources and time experiencing as much fun as possible to push back despair and darkness. Others will deal with their need for security by squirrelling away another five hundred dollars into the nest egg in order to create predictability for their future. This helps them feel safe and live in the tension between despair and hope.


I would suggest that atheists, humanists, agnostics, scientists, socialists and religious people all do one thing in concert. That is, they have faith. Faith is choosing to accept something as true even in the absence of proof. In reality, while each is based upon sometimes very strong evidence (often historical) it does not fit the definition of proof or fact.

There was nothing more telling of this truth than the article being sent around the world of a veteran scholar of epidemiology Knut Wittkowski disagrees with the decisions to lockdown and isolate non vulnerable people because it will just prolong the epidemic.


Mr. Wittkowski has a very distinquished career and an impressive resume to allow him into the debate of pandemic research. He says that this is a pandemic as every flu season is a pandemic. He argues for herd immunity as the main protection from pandemics. He brings significant weight to the argument to return to normal life and life will go on. His message is a message of HOPE!


I was struck by one person’s comments supporting this article. She said, ‘ I do not trust politics, soft psychology or sociology, but on ‘Hard Science’. She obviously has faith in ‘Science’, but I never thought of science as being Hard or Soft! But obviously this was Hard Science, basically indicating that it is rock solid and trustworthy. This sounds a little like some fundamentalists. Unfortunately, Dr. Fauci and other government medical advisers are using Soft Science according to this blogger.


The only problem with rock solid anything is that it believes it is rock solid. For whatever reason scientists I guess disagree on some science. In other words, there is choice involved in which one your will rest your security on. There are second opinions, better science or better outcome predictors. Perhaps it matters less if it is Hard or Soft Science, we all will make choices based upon what we put our faith in.


Those that live on the far edge of hope are extreme optimists. They may have hyper religious faith, they may believe in the universe, or horoscope readings, or they may believe that science and logic are the answers to everything; others follow the money, while for others their fight is for human rights or social justice. Their passionate but often rigid beliefs keep them focused and steady, firmly anchored in order not to drift toward despair and the dark side of life. They chant their religious / special interests beliefs in social gatherings and every other opportunity that allows them to cement their faith.


In other words, without a cause that brings us hope, we all begin to slide towards despair.


Absolute despair also requires great faith. Most of us must hold steady to very rigid negative beliefs about the sad environmental condition of the world, the corruption of capitalism, the hypocrisy of the church or government, and the catastrophic, seemingly hopeless period that we live in. To maintain a fire, you need to feed it wood.


Despair, like hope, requires fuel to keep coals of discouragement and sadness hot. Despair requires the faith of thousands of discouraging negative thoughts about one’s life in order to maintain its intensity. It requires such daily acts of faith in order to feel safe that its beliefs are correct and predictable. Hope floats us to the surface of life, dispelling the loneliness, darkness and despair.


Each generation blames the one before! But each generation is required to choose what they will put their faith in. This is not the only generation that has had despair nipping at its heels. For example, during my childhood it seemed that the only logical and scientific conclusion to our trajectory was for the world to be destroyed by nuclear warheads. There was little hope for anything else. Like most generations that have gone before, this generation has huge challenges. But it also has massive capabilities compared to other generations. This generation needs to choose to believe! Blame and despair are options!


To choose to not have faith is not an option. The only choice we have is to choose what you will lean into. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence not yet seen. Faith pulls our future into our present to create what we focus on. Faith is not the denial of despair, loss or death but the choice to believe in the future and the power of hope. Faith will become our focus. Our focus becomes our faith. Hence, that which we focus on will tend to eventually become our life.


We will never eliminate despair and hope by religion or science, but we will all experience faith.


Today your choice is in which direction you will lean. What or who will you choose to believe.


Note: I am not saying that those who experience depression needs only hope. What I am saying is that those who are experiencing depression have far more negative thoughts than those who are not depressed, hence providing fuel for despair. It is bio-chemical mental illness that is affected by negative thinking patterns. Repair and recovery from all health issues requires many different interventions but all require faith and courage.


Kim Christink, is the Executive Director of the Bayridge Counselling Centres.

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