GREAT BEND, Kan. - Hope is a powerful word, perhaps one of the most powerful in the English language.
Hope can keep a person in a bad relationship. Hope can cause people to end long term relationships. Hope can fuel wars. Hope can win elections. Hope can even force us to go to a menial job every day.
I have a long list of hopes for life. A never ending list, things are added to this list quicker than can be checked off.
Hope is a symbolic word for social workers and teachers. As Dr. Matthews, a Social Work Professor I once had in college stated, "Social work is not what we do, it is who we are."
How true that is, we trade in money and a comfortable living for hope.
We survive on little changes and small victories that would make most people cash in their hope for a better job.
Twenty-nine out of forty children we work with could end up in prison, and we will glow for a life time for the eleven that made it. We will share these battle stories with our fellow workers. We will ingest the hope of the eleven that turned their lives around, digest it, and use that energy to fuel the rest of our career. Yes, social workers are different people. They can make a victory out of what most would call a defeat. Those that learn to lean on hope, make it in the field. Hope is powerful.
A group of social workers in my graduating class (who are musically savvy) got together and played a version of the Dixie Chicks' song, "I Hope". How appropriate. That is the first time I realized how powerful hope is and what an impact it has had on my life. I am ever hopeful.
People with a sense of hope are, at times taken advantage of. Choosing to go to college, incurring debt for a menial paying job shows you are a person who thrives on hope.
On the flip side it also means that there are times when the highly intelligent won't be teaching our youth. You get what you pay for, or so they say.
Hope is in the same family as optimism. Hope is less naive. Hope is simple. Hope is understanding when terrible things happen, and working to change things for the next time around. Hope is understanding the world can be terrible and ugly sometimes, but knowing that things can change. Hope is love in action.
A loss of hope is a tragic and dangerous thing; it tends to end lives, cause shooting sprees, cage us off from the rest of the world, isolates us from society. Some of the greatest art has been created because of a loss of hope, unfortunately so have some of the most heinous crimes.
When people are paid menial wages, or loose jobs because of budget cuts, hope ends, chaos begins. Danger takes over. Crimes increase. Burglary, rape, murder, shooting sprees increase, divorce increases, more children are taken into the system. When a community has jobs that pay a wage to support the people in it, hope flourishes, crime decreases. People are hopeful.
When depression, recession, or lack of decent paying jobs force people to work at McDonald's, gas stations, or Wal-mart, people become desperate. When a person works 40-50 hours a week and still has to depend on government assistance, desperation reigns. Desperation is the last stage in a loss of hope. Desperation leads to danger.
In the field of social work we tend to call loss of hope, burnout. A lack of return on effort put in can at times cause a person to reevaluate a career choice, or life choice for that matter.
Dr. Laura told a client on her show the other day, "Hope is just prolonged disappointment." I hold out hope that she is wrong. Perhaps she has burnt out, perhaps she has no hope left.
Hope has fueled some of history's biggest heroes. JFK, Alice Paul, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, people who have knowingly risked their lives, endured torture for a goal. A goal they were certain they wouldn't live long enough to benefit from. Alice Paul, who fought for women to have the right to vote, Martin Luther King, Jr. who fought for his children to have a place in society.
People fight against people with hope. Hope eventually overcomes. There will always be those in society with hope. Luckily hope is transferable and can be borrowed from friends, co-workers, boyfriends, wives, children. There is always someone with a little extra hope to spare.
I hope for many things. I hope that someday women will be included in the US Constitution. I hope that we can start focusing on the fact that 15,000 children die each day because of starvation and malnutrition rather than focusing on abortion. I hope we can focus on children that are part of the foster care system that never receive an adoptive home.
I hope we can ensure people receive an honest days pay for an honest days work. I hope that someday social workers will not be needed. I hope people start taking more responsibility for their communities and the Federal Government is not forced to contribute so much. I hope for a safe community. I hope for food on my table every night. I hope that teachers will be as valued as business owners in a community.
I hope people can do less complaining and more work. I hope when I turn on the television I hear of no crimes. I hope we can make productive the ghettos. I hope we begin to value children. I hope we start focusing on long term solutions rather than short term solutions. I hope teachers and social workers begin to be viewed as professionals. I hope the walls in my house will finish painting themselves; okay so sometimes hope is unrealistic, but I can still hope. Can't I?