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It is Virtuous to Hope
The daily news is not usually hopeful; in fact, it is rather depressing. It is hard to find any silver lining to anything we hear or read. Many people are fighting depression and anxiety. Let’s Talk, a Bell initiative, is worthy of commendation for addressing the issue of depression; what more can be done? What can we do in our families and in our community?
In our families it is important to keep all lines of communication open so that parents and children share the intimacy of their feelings and be on the alert for any expression of prolonged sadness or feelings of rejection. It is important that parents do not speak as the “boss” and yet they must continue to be parents and not friends. Parents also can share their anxiety and sadness without making them a burden for the children. Real communication takes place when parents and children are respected for who they are and develop a greater level of trust. Trust nourishes hope. Families cannot forget that there is a tremendous resource available to them, the experience of other parents.
Many years ago I was introduced to CFM, the Christian Family Movement, a movement for couples to meet on a weekly basis to share what they were actually doing in their own families and what they were learning. The one lesson I learned is the importance of reflecting on the human experience of creating a family and also how little preparation parents have had to prepare themselves to be parents.
The agenda for the evenings was to observe, to judge what was observed and then to actually create an action, however simple, for each couple or for the group. It is in our reflection on our human experience that we discover how God is acting in our lives. God is not a distant God watching us from afar, from heaven, an outsider God, but an insider God, speaking to us from within our human experience. In silence we are most able to hear the quiet whisper God has in store for each of us or to feel a gentle breeze that refreshes us in the heat of the hustle and bustle of our everyday, ordinary lives.
At the intersection of the human and divine we can experience the hidden and elusive God. The Risen Christ is now hidden in God and so it is the Spirit that can be discovered in family life. Couples and families come alive when they pay attention to the “happenings” of family life. The hope that ensues from a full family life is what true fulfillment is all about, living a good life.
The community also benefits because it is the same spirit that exposes the signs of the times. What are the signs of our times? The need to know how the economy works, not because money make the world go round, but because the economy is the cause of so much poverty in our world. There is also a need for a greater redistribution of food throughout the world with millions of people starving while there is the incredible waste of food in the more developed countries. There is the awakening of Canadians to the desperate lives of so many native people whom were confined to the misery of reserves and then submitted to psychological, cultural, and sexual abuse in residential schools. It cannot leave us indifferent.
In the family and in community it is virtuous to hope. Hope speaks louder than faith. Hope can be contagious. Hope is a theological virtue and when we act with hope we act in the name of our God, however we may conceive him or her to be. Hope is a virtue and as such it must avoid extremes, too little which would be of little benefit or too much which would be foolhardy. Hope is in the in-between of these extremes. Hope is found in a balanced view of life in which we are content to have a good life.
Jeffrey Sacks, in the World Happiness Report of 2013 offers a thoughtful chapter entitled Restoring Virtue Ethics In The Quest For Happiness. He concludes: “If we were to center our attention on the role of ethics, on virtuous behaviour, on happiness, we could envision raising individual, national and global well-being to a new level. Until our modern era the sages instructed us not to follow our base instincts for sensual pleasures and material possessions, but rather to see much greater potential in being compassionate towards others.”
Hope is very concrete when people live with compassion and the world is on its way to becoming healed.
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