There are times in one’s life when hope cannot be found in the usual sense of the word. At those light-less times, hope does not mean “optimism,” it means remembering what it takes to remain a human being, and in doing it.
We humans can see some things in the dark that are invisible to the light of day. We recognize some virtues only when we are afraid or confused. Just as an actor enters the plot, not to gain personal victory but to manifest his or her great art, so we must view our own role in this sphere of shifting fate.
According to the ancients, the art of living consists in four classic virtues: courage, wisdom, temperance, and justice. The art of living consists in recognizing what happens to us does not happen to us alone, but is a larger stage where we are forging our common human destiny.
A prophetic hope moves by joyful sense of duty to all humankind, not by calculations of personal success. There is more joy in losing a noble struggle, than winning an ignoble one. So “hope,” as a spiritual virtue, is not confidence of personal success, but holding on to one’s highest duty and giving one’s best self to one’s highest cause.
It has been said the two rewards of an activist’s life are loving friends and living dreams. We may also add a third reward, the joy of giving our lives to our highest value without needing to be assured of success beforehand. “Hope” is the knowledge that our character does not depend on the wheels of chance, and that nothing can happen to rob us of our opportunity to manifest the virtues, or of the resulting joy.