The problem with hope is that it’s bipolar. Every time we rely on hope, we always bring in fear. Wisdom teaches that hope and fear are two sides of the same dynamic. You already know this from your own experience. Think of when you put great hope and effort in a project, cause, or person. You worked very hard for its success, but then it failed from causes beyond your control. How did you feel then?
Too many of us good people dedicated to creating change have become addicted to hope. We feel despair for the destruction of planet, peoples, species, and the future. Yet we still need to make a difference, so we grasp for hope to motivate and energize us.
As Holocaust survivor, Hannah Arendt, said, "Hope is a dangerous barrier to acting courageously in dark times. In hope, the soul overleaps reality, as in fear it shrinks back from it.”
It’s time to be aware of this cycle and liberate ourselves from the drug of Hopium. Hopium never gives us the energy and motivation we need to contribute and persevere. As we free ourselves from the cycle of hope and fear, we don’t become useless, hopeless people. Instead, we become people who can see clearly how to contribute in meaningful ways. We discover work that makes a different difference. We contribute meaningfully within our sphere of influence to a person, a community, a local cause.
Those who deeply care about a friend or family member who’s addicted will sometimes create an intervention for the person to see their addiction and discover a better way. It’s my heartfelt aspiration that we liberate ourselves from Hopium so that we can discover meaningful work to serve the human spirit and the spirit of life.
Hope blinds us to our path of contribution. With insight and compassion, we discover abundant ways to contribute to this time of great suffering for peoples and planet.
Margaret Wheatley is a celebrated author of many books. Excerpt above is from her Medium article Freeing Ourselves from the Addiction of Hope.
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the notion that hope and fear are two sides of the same dynamic? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to move beyond hope and fear and see clearly how you could contribute in meaningful ways? What helps you stay rooted in your contribution?