In writing a post of this nature, I am aware of one thing. It would come across as though, these words are written purely from the point-of-view of an observer. Hence, the implication is that observers cannot and do not have any personal beliefs. This is understandable. Personal beliefs affect the observer, and thereby they affect the observation. However, wouldn’t you consider it useful to be able to stand away from even one’s own beliefs and try to look at them through the eyes of an examiner? Doing so can be hard. It would even be felt, that one who can see his own beliefs as an unbeliever is a hypocrite. This too is understandable. So, let it be! Maybe there are beliefs which, no matter how you look at them, belief is the natural result because of their self-evident nature.
Hope is a very significant human desire. Yes, hope is a desire. When a man has hope, he can endure almost anything. In hope, he finds the reason to endure. He understands, there is a purpose to his suffering. He believes, it is not meaningless to have gone through suffering.
At this point itself, it would be good to realize that suffering in itself should be considered as a reason for hope. Why? It is so because suffering itself can produce the qualities of character that comfort never could. For the cause of discipline, a person could willingly undergo suffering. Athletes and academics, both do it. They understand, the efforts spent in discipline would lead to physical or intellectual goals being met. The training process, when it itself becomes a pleasure, can help the athlete or the academic to truly enjoy what he does. It is no longer the winning of a competition in sports or study that is the reason for joy. Even preparing for the achievement becomes pleasurable, and surely the attaining of the final reward is the attainment of a hope.
Given this background, one can start to understand social movements. There are all kinds of social movements today – for feminism, for socialism, for capitalism, for the government, for anti-fascism, for education, for space exploration, for mental health, for Christianity, for Islam etc. Everything there is a social movement for, there is also a social movement against it. With the modern means of interaction on social networking, people are able to find and connect with people who think like each-other, people who seek the same things and have the possibility of cooperating toward some hope. Yes, hope for a final situation or a final goal is the underlying driving force. If there were no hope, what would keep these people working, let alone working together?
It would be ideal to have a social movement that allows for each member to retain his individuality. This surely would have much to do with the speed and size of the movement. A large social movement with great speed is a threat to order, as it is also a threat to the individuality of its members. This happens on social networking sites quite frequently. Movements rise and fall as objectives change. However, the members of a movement still stay together more or less if the underlying hope is not yet fulfilled.
So, really, it is not just the changing objectives but hope that is keeping the ideology of a movement in continuation. If there is a hope worthy of maintaining, the social movement will find regenerative power. This is why religion has such a hold on people, because the hopes that religion(s) give in connection with God(s) can never realistically be fulfilled by humankind.
What is the source of the hope?
There can be only two real sources of hope – human or superhuman. Yes, it is true that humans find joy and comfort by looking at exceptional kindness, faithfulness, beauty, or strength in the animals. Even that has been a basis for hope, and at times it has become a reason for idolizing of some creatures. People in a desert had to recognize the significance of the camels. Lonely people living in a city found companionship and comfort in a dog or a cat. Those creatures fulfilled a need. A lonely woman comes back home and hopes to find her dog waiting to greet her. Or a man hopes to be able to take care of his birds. These, too, are little examples of hope, aren’t they?
However, the kind of hope that can transform lives for masses of people in very significant ways – those kinds of hopes have to come from a source that the masses can look up to. There, hope has taken the form of a mass desire. Maybe it is hope for a change; a change that is not within the reach of any one individual to fulfill by himself or herself. Where there is a society and it continues, it had to have formed and continued with some hope. Without any hope, a society will crumble and fall into decay.
Every society had its God or Gods. It simply isn’t possible to have a society to find absolute satisfaction through its own efforts. Even if the greatest accomplishments could be made, it is in the nature of man to wonder about what lies beyond the present accomplishments. And it is not only about accomplishments. Humans have a capacity for the spiritual, a need for it, and minds that can be inquisitive in such pursuits. This fundamental reality cannot be detached from humans. Even the extremes of anxieties and comforts elicit thoughts of the spiritual. And where there is the spiritual, there always will be the question of hope.
Of course, no one wants their hope to end up in disappointment. Therefore, the plans – whatever they may be – that lead to the fulfillment of that hope should also be clear to the people. If a politician says that he wishes to eliminate corruption or poverty, it would be prudent of the people to do 2 things: (1) They should be skeptical, and very unbelieving in view of the fact that poverty has never humanly been eliminated. It also finds a way to come back into society despite great humanitarian efforts. (2) What is the process and method that a political leader proposes to fulfill this hope? Once the people have a clearer understanding of the path, they are also more likely to follow through to the end, till the hope is fulfilled to a reasonable extent.
If God wants to eliminate poverty, it is simply a matter of time. Doing it through human agencies is what people realistically are interested in, especially if any leader claims to have divine backing or authorization. There must be undeniable evidence to back such a claim! Else, that leader is another one of a long line of deceivers this world has seen for a very long time.
I too wish to see the elimination of poverty, corruption, or some other evil that afflicts society. However, our goals cannot be unrealistic if they are to become reality, no matter how desirable they are. To claim divine backing would require evidence as enjoyed by Moses, Joseph, Job, Solomon, Elisha, or Jesus Christ. In the absence of such evidence, the claim should also not be made.
Can anyone make such a claim, regardless of religion – the claim of divine backing and authorization – for the purpose of fulfilling the hope of mankind? People do make such claims, and people also believe such claims. The hope, if it is fulfilled, will be the proof. Humans should generally promise in keeping with their limitations.
An honest human would consider himself personally responsible for making a false promise, and thereby creating a false hope in others.
When many believe the same thing
It is undeniable, there is a great power when many people believe the same thing. Whether it is a protest march, or it is a prayer session, there is a uniqueness about the collecting together of people on the basis of belief. And when that belief takes a positive form – the form of hope – it is capable of great accomplishments.
There is today, very little reason to believe that all of the human society can be united for the betterment of all. Society is more fragmented than ever before, and sections of society have even become polarized. What fragments and polarizes society? Hope! Yes, different sections of society hope for different things; even the hope for opposite things exist within the same society. Those hopes are in line with the desires of the people of society. So many examples exist: Some people in Britain are adamant for a Brexit separation from the EU while others are not. Sections of people in India are willing to stay with the decision and the effects of demonetization, while others want to use the frustration to serve their own ends. Still, others were never in favor of the decision. In the US, there are clearly demarcated supporters and opposers of the Trump presidency. In each of these cases, the specific objectives of the people differ, but sections of society align on the basis of what they hope for.
Even broadly speaking, all people do not hope for the same things. There are people who genuinely hope for war, try to create the situations for it, and then hope to benefit from the plundering. Others hope that war doesn’t start in the first place. Even the prosperity from plunder does not allure them, and they would much rather share the wealth in some equal measure so that people can live peacefully in their respective parts of the world.
The natural resources of our planet are not inexhaustible; they are finite. There isn’t enough for everyone to live as kings and queens, but there still is the possibility of meeting the needs of all its creatures. Isn’t that something we should hope for? With advancements in technology, we have come to consider certain things as needs today, while these did not even exist just over a century ago. There are running water in homes, plumbing, electricity, wireless Internet. The existence of such amenities is a fulfillment of desires and the overall hopes that have continued for centuries. There are other hopes, such as of peace, brotherhood, and security that have been threatened by the very human ingenuity that has made other things possible.
Deep down, if a human hopes apart from greed and arrogance, I believe, we all have the same common hope (singular). We hope for a life with purpose, comfort, safety, happiness, and peace. And if one is to die, then it would be at the end of a life that brought fulfillment, one would hope. If there is the possibility of human unity for such a common hope, it is worth taking the time to think about, to work for. What do you think?