Hope is the pillar that holds up the world. Hope is the dream of a waking man.

Pliny the Elder

All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope.

Alexandre Dumas

To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass.

Desmond Tutu


Like many folks, for me, 2020 has been a year of hoping.  Hoping:

  • the coronavirus will go away
  • to be with and able to hug friends and family again, unencumbered by masks and fear of disease
  • for a more honest reporting of news events
  • for more kindness in the world

…And the list goes on and on…  When I think of hope, I hear the voice of an executive in the company I used to work for:  “Hope is not a strategy.”  This was a frequent critique when our annual strategic outlook on our business, our customers’ needs, future products and world environment was not specific enough.  We were challenged to provide timelines and actions to implement our strategies.  Over a decade ago, as I took part in many strategic planning exercises, I was naive enough to believe that a set of tactical actions built around a solid strategic outlook could predict success for my company’s future.

At home now, retired, barely knowing what day it is, I live in the now.   I can’t imagine how companies plan for a long term horizon.  As I follow popular social media, I realize, I don’t even understand much of the language that is used these days.  Has the world really changed and become that unpredictable or am  I just old and obsolete?

I  walk in nature, do yoga and read to try to better understand the state of my mind and the world.   This past month, as part of a book community that I participate in, a younger woman suggested we read The Book of Joy.  In the book, Douglas Abrams documents a week-long meeting between two world  spiritual leaders, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu as they discuss what it means to live a happy life, full of Joy.  This delightful book is full of wisdom and playful interchanges between a Buddhist and Christian leader who have suffered much in their 80 plus years on this planet.

My copy of this book is now full of highlighted and underlined passages on well-read pages.  When questioned about all the suffering and injustice in the world, Archbishop Tutu made an observation about hope that defies the previous notion I had from my strategic planning context. In addition to the above quote, Tutu eloquently states: “…hope is the antidote to despair.  Yet hope requires faith, even if that faith is nothing more than human nature or the very persistence of life to find a way.  Hope is also nurtured by relationship, by community…Hope sends us into the arms of others.”

My hope on this eve of the 2020 election, is that this nation:

  • finds the persistence to move forward, no matter who wins
  • figures out a way to acknowledge our differences without continued name calling and hatred
  • does not move into isolated groups digging deeper into our differences
  • doesn’t let despair turn us inward” 

In the process, I wish we may all find inner Joy that brings us happiness on this bumpy road which we call life.

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