More on Hope

I am thinking a lot about hope for the future these days, and also trust in government. A recent commenter said this:

I think there is something really positive about feeling good about Obama in itself. If people are behind him and positive whatever change he can actually make will be more effective than if people are totally cynical. I’d rather feel hopeful (perhaps with a sense of reality) about a president doing mediocre things than to be disparaging about a president doing mediocre things even if the outcome is the same.

Thoughts? Is it good to be hopeful even if it isn’t very founded, or it is based on mediocrity? Is it good to trust government even if it isn’t very founded, even if the government isn’t THAT trustworthy? Does it somehow make for a better democracy? Are hope and trust important values in and of themselves, or just ways of indulging our idealism and desire for things to be different?

p.s. On the off chance that someone knows literature that deals with these questions, I would love to know about it.

4 Responses to More on Hope

  1. Chuck B. says:

    I find it interesting that these criticisms of Obama are being posted after Morales beat Hallman. Particularly as these posts offer very little actual substance other than passive agressive invective.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Chuck, I’m not sure what your deal is. I think Peter Morales is great and I’m happy he is the president. My previous post about him dealt with a small sliver of what he is about. These posts have not a thing to do with him – I am writing a paper that deals with hope and so I am trying to work out some of the hard questions around that. The posts aren’t supposed to be substantive. They deal with narrow, but important questions about the role that hope plays in politics and faith and I am looking for wisdom and feedback from the thoughtful readers of this blog. Geez. Relax.

  3. Diggitt says:

    I just noticed something interesting. Every year for more than a decade I have organized a service on the Sunday closest to July 4, in which the congregation reads the Declaration of Independence together and then discusses it “in UU terms” [whatever that means].

    I’ve set it up in 16 pt Arial and divided it, by phrases, into red and blue. This way, people read the next phrase, as we go around the room, and the next phrase is clearly delineated. When few people had color printers, I printed them all out myself — now I send out the .doc and most people can bring their own copies.

    Last year I sent it not only to my congregation but to my high school class (I had the list, since we had a big reunion a few years ago) and since I am a village trustee, I also sent it to the 700 or so residents I have on my village email, and the 200 people on my cousins email list.

    Last year was a big yawn. People in my congregation were kind of offhand about the service “again” and very few people from the community or my high school class commented. This year, on the other hand, I have had a couple dozen responses from people who got it by email, and members of my congregation are actively looking forward to next Sunday.

    Now I think that speaks of hope. I would be hard-pressed to say hope in what or why hope, but it’s a quantifiable difference.

    These folks are not demographically the same. My cousins are by and large (Irish) Catholics, living in clusters centered on Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio, Houston, and Phoenix. My high school was in NE Ohio but classmates are scattered everywhere in the US and western Europe. My village and my congregation are in “liberal” Westchester County, New York. So while my liberal Obamaniac friends and neighbors might be hopeful, what’s happening with my socially and religiously conservative cousins and childhood friends? In fact, they also are hopeful.

    It may be that we need to manufacture hope to keep ourselves going in tough times. Cherishing the Declaration of Independence is an interesting way to do it, and yet it crosses boundaries in the U.S.

    I have to say that I am hopeful about people cherishing anything that ties them to other Americans. Hearing about these Kentucky Christians who are going to church packing heat gives me the creeps — especially when they justify it by UU church shootings!

    Incidentally, I will send the .doc to anyone who wants it — contact me at, which is (obviously) my UU email address.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Diggitt – this was a very helpful and interesting comment. Thank you! Elizabeth

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