I stressed last week that a resilient hope is an essential mark of an effective organization and, further, that hope is necessarily offered against the backdrop of lament.
But now to stress that one of the key indicators that we are a community or organization of hop is the refusal to accept this reality as the status quo. Hope is the antithesis of resignation and fatalism. We recognize reality, but women and men of hope have an insistence about them – or better, a persistence. They do not give up. In the language of the book of Romans, in the midst of trial or difficulty, they persevere. That text from Paul assures readers that if they persevere hope does not disappoint [Romans 5:3-5]. They consistently focus on what can be done rather than despairing about what cannot be done. And often they persist in the face of what might seem like hopeless circumstances. They are not naïve to the situation; but, they persevere in their vision for the good, the noble and the excellent.
The wind has gone out of our sails. We have been set back – having experienced a loss or a blow or something that has us discouraged [whatever the specifics of what it is that has discouraged us]. And we have that window in which we wonder if the setback means there is little if any hope. And we might be tempted to give up.
However, organizations that are marked by a resilient hope do not give up; they persist; they find a way to get up and press on. They find a way to take a step forward, even if it is only a small step.
But there needs to be a qualifier here – a vitally important way by which we describe what it means to persevere. Those marked by hope are also those whose lives and work and relationships are marked by honor, integrity and virtue. They persevere with a parallel commitment to doing the right thing the right way [not sure if there is a better way to put this]. A vivid way to illustrate this is through the contrast between non-violent peaceful protest and violent acts that attempt to resolve an issue through force. Perseverance and persistence and doggedness and determination are all profound indicators of hope; but violence is a sign that we have actually given up; we are hopeless. Few people exemplified this as powerfully as John Lewis – the American congressional leader from Georgia famous, in part, for his walk across the bridge named after a KluKluxKlan leader. Lewis refused to act as he had been acted on – with violence; he refused to resort to violence to achieve political gains.
In the course of our daily lives and work, this means a carpenter refused to be compromised in the quality of the work that is being done; that a surgeon will cut no corners; that a professor will come to a lecture having done due diligence; that an athlete will not take performance enhancing substances; that those in leadership will work within and honor the system of governance even if it means that they get outvoted. Athletes will not cheat; they will honor the rules of the game. Business entrepreneurs will not game the system or violate their commitment to doing business in a way that honours their suppliers and their clients. Administrators will not manipulate, but work openly – transparency and accountability – with their colleagues. Politicians will uphold the law and work within the system of governance – honoring it – to achieve their desired outcomes. So yes, hope is about perseverance and persistence; but, only if and as it means a commitment to working with courage and patience in a manner that reflects honor, virtue and character.
But the main point: resilient hopefulness is evident in a persistence – the resolve to persevere.