Focus on hope during Eastertide


Eastertide is a hopeful season. Two previous columns describe our culture of pessimism and despair; both ended with glimmers of hope. Perhaps Lent is a fitting time for descriptions of despair. A woman approached me in the choir and asked when we were going to stop singing songs in gloomy minor keys. The response: come Sunday because it is Palm Sunday. It seems appropriate now to focus on HOPE. The maxim of one community organization is that HOPE refers to Healing, Opportunities, Progress, and Empowerment.

HOPE: H is for Healing historical wounds to mitigate their impact in the present. The focus of hope is on the present and the future. Hopeful action is not moping, moaning, or complaining, but on doing positive actions now that improve our future. Taking positive actions to heal historical wounds creates a win/win situation. It is beneficial to oneself, perhaps more beneficial than for others. Hope means covering the wounds of others with caring attention and with the balm of love.

HOPE: O is for Opportunities that come from building new relationships. Wisdom about people, places, and events comes from learning the perspectives of others different from ourselves. We have to meet and attend carefully to others as individuals to understand and learn. That gives us the opportunity to break out of our small comfort zones and expand our worldviews. Fortunately, we don’t have to travel around the world to learn about new people, cultures, and religions. We can meet and interact with many cultures by focusing on our neighbors in Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, and Indiana.

HOPE: P is for Progress for all citizens as a result of new working relationships. Well-being of individuals and groups need not be a zero-sum game in which some win at the expense of others. The entire boat can rise on hope and house us all. All can benefit by working together. We are in this together, including our new neighbors. The flourishing of our local community depends upon cooperation involving everyone for the good of the community. We earnestly desire to live in a community of hope.

HOPE: E is for Empowerment that comes from telling the truth to ourselves and one another. Hope cannot be based on self-deception, or on believing and repeating falsehoods about others. We are freed as individuals when we are able to recognize and confess to ourselves truths about ourselves, even unpleasant truths. Some people demand guilt and confession of past errors, even errors committed by others like us. I am not disposed to public confession, especially for actions of others in the past. Nevertheless, serious recognition of truth about oneself as finite and flawed is necessary to salvation and to a hopeful future. We must also listen to truths stated by others and take those into account in our attitudes and actions, even when we don’t agree about the accuracy of some of what is stated. Our community is empowered when we need not hide from each other, but rather cooperate on those actions about which we agree.

We might need all those letters combined to have HOPE — Healing, Opportunity, Progress, Empowerment. Some might suggest additional letters — Faith, Utility, Love. Whatever is needed, let us focus on hope during this Eastertide, even those of us who do not observe Easter. Hope will lead to a more beautiful Springtime. We all need some hope in our lives and in our community.


Raymond B. Williams, Crawfordsville, LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities emeritus, contributed this guest column.