Hope is stronger than fear…

November 24, 2014

I happened to watch The Hunger Games over the weekend or at least a part of it. I hadn’t seen the movie, since we seldom go to movies anymore. At the end there is a scene in which the character Bow and ArrowSnow, played by Donald Sutherland, President of the Capitol in country of Panem  says, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” Snow and the Capitol rule Panem through the use of fear; but the success of Katniss and Peeta give hope to the people in the outlying Districts and they begin to riot.

While it was an interesting action film; and it is not necessarily what I would pay to go see; it did have an overall moral message of good overcoming evil and of Hope for the future. I’ve written here before about Hope. In fact Hope was the only candle left burning after the other three of the four had been extinguished in my post about the Four Candles. I also wrote about it in posts titled Hope Leads to Great Memories and my post, Don’t Worry, Be Hopeful.

Of those previous posts, I think the Four Candles one applies most to today’s theme that Hope is stronger than fear. There are so many troubled places in the world today where the first two or three candles have been extinguished; where Peace and Love are hard pressed to be found or expressed. In many of those places Faith, especially faith other than the stated religion of the rulers (or the dictated lack of religion) is hard to keep lit. Even in those evil places and under the worst of circumstances Hope may still be found.

In most of those places fear is the main tool of the oppressive rulers. Fear of being found out and turtletortured or killed, if one has different religious beliefs or maybe is even of a different sect within the same religious belief. Fear is a powerful tool. Fear can cause people to cower and stay in line. Fear can turn people against each other. Fear causes people to look at their shoes when evil acts take place right in front of them. Fear allows a small minority to rule over the great majority. But fear is not a foundation upon which to build the future. Fear does not encourage and support.

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. Hope allowed people in East Berlin to take the chance to run across mine fields and through barbed wire in order to get to freedom. Hope getting outprovides the courage and the persistence for families to make long journeys through rugged terrain in places like Iraq to get to a better place. It is Hope for a better life for their children that sustain people through the long hours of toil necessary to give their children a chance at a better life. It is Hope that allows the other three candles to be relit if only one waits long enough and has Hope enough. And it is Hope that steels the backbone and steadies the hand in the face of overwhelming odds; it certainly cannot be logic or knowledge.

President Snow in The Hunger Games was right to call out Hope as the biggest threat to his reign. People with Hope will overcome fear and great odds and will eventually prevail. Once they have tasted victory, they will move on relight to the candles of Faith, Love and, eventually, Peace. I have no idea what happens in the next two episodes of the Hunger Games trilogy, but I suspect that they will inevitably move towards victory for the oppressed people of Panem and the rekindling of the other three candles.

butterfly1In our world one can hold onto Hope for people stuck in places like China and North Korea, much of the Middle East and many places in Africa, plus the places in Eastern Europe still ruled by dictatorships based upon repression and fear. If one were to pray for help for those areas, it should not be that they somehow magically change overnight (that will not happen); rather pray that Hope is kept alive in the hearts and minds of the oppressed. Eventually it will be that Hope that will allow the people to find a way to overcome the dictators and throw off the shackles of fear and repression.

In our own day-to-day lives, it is our Hopes and dreams that keep us going, too. Hope represents our future and having no Hopes would mean having no future. Many of us might Hope for better futures for our children and work to make that happen. Then, we might hold out Hope for our grandchildren’s future, too. As we get older we might shift our focus to Hoping for a long and healthy life and for comfort and security in our waning years; but, we never lose Hope. Eventually, it is the Hope found in our religious beliefs that help us overcome the biggest fear of all – the fear of death.

What are your Hopes? How does Hope help you overcome your fears. How does Hope sustain you?

I Hope you have a great and Hopeful week ahead.


Don’t worry, be hopeful…

May 6, 2014

From one of my favorite sources of daily inspiration – Jack’s Winning Words – comes this little gem – “I’m not going to tell you to worry less.  I’m going to tell you to hope more.”  (Cora from Downtown Abbey)

In 1988 Bobby McFerrin released the song Don’t worry, be happy.  He might have taken a slightly different approach if he’d written “Don’t worry, be hopeful” instead.

I have written about hope before. If you remember the post about the four candles, when the other three candles flicker out, first peace, then love and then faith; there is only the candle of hope left burning and it is with that candle that the other three are relit.

We tend to allow things both good and bad play out in our minds. Unfortunately the worries of day to day life oft rule the day and our minds have little else to do but imagine all of the worst case scenarios. If we can refocus upon hope then we give our minds something else to do, something much more positive.

women dreamingInspirational speakers and success coaches call those positive mental exercises visualization. If we can visualize it, they tell us; then, we can take actions to achieve our visions. So, from hope springs visualization and with actions to realize our visualization, success surely follows. At least that’s the plan and I’m stickin’ to it.

The key is to take some action to realize the positive visualization that you have achieved out of your hopes. There is a drug ad on TV that has the lines, “A body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.” If you never take any actions to realize your hopes you will not achieve them; however, if you take action you will at least be a body in motion and headed somewhere. Many times almost anywhere else is better than where you were; so, get your body in motion and pursue your hopes and dreams.

Don’t worry, be hopeful.


What are you listening to? Time to change the tune!

February 2, 2014

I ran across this little saying in a blurb about a new book recently – The Voice You Listen to Will Determine the Future You Experience.  The saying was in the advertising for the new book by Stephan Furtick titled Crash the Chatterbox. In Crash the Chatterbox, best-selling author Pastor Steven Furtick focuses on four key areas in which negative thoughts are most debilitating: insecurity, fear, condemnation, and discouragement. He asks, “What great deeds are in danger of remaining undone in your life because of lies that were planted in your past or fears that are looming in your future?”

fearI have written in the part about FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt – which is common in the business world and is often used as a delaying tactic by larger companies to keep customers from buying from smaller, more nimble companies with new products. Just throw out a little FUD about the new product or the small company and you will freeze a certain portion of the market.

I’ve also written about the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda’s – those after the fact regrets that we all get from time to time about things left undone; especially things that turn out to have been really fun for those not so timid that they didn’t even try.

Whenever I write one of these pieces, I get feedback from new readers saying they liked what I wrote and inviting me to see what they’re up to. For the most part these are from people now well on their way to dispairrecovering from some dark period in their lives; something that drove them in places in their minds from which they may still be struggling to escape.

The good news is that most of them have made it out of their person hells, or have at least begun the journey back, and they are usually now espousing a more positive, upbeat outlook on life. Most, but not all. There are still way too many people out there, many of them spewing out words of hate or darkness and despair on their blogs. I refuse to go there with them.

Whatever the situation that has occurred to drag those people into the hole that they are in needs to be confronted as the first step to recovery. No matter what it is – it is; and once you accept that, you can ask yourself the next question – “Now, what I’m I going to do from here?”

I wrote recently about the four candles story; about the candles of peace and faith and love being extinguished, and how having the candle of hope still lit enables the other three to be relit. Sometimes preceding any effort to use Hope to relight the other candles in your life it is necessary to just stop – stop the wallowing in pity and self-blame; pause the fear, uncertainty and doubt; put aside the insecurity, fear, condemnation and discouragement for the moment – and accept the fact that you are where you are and that there is nothing that you can do to change that.

The next step, at least for me, is to admit that you cannot solve everything by yourself. Just admitting that will take a large load off your shoulders. For many, having gotten into this mental state is a paralyzing experience – nothing gets done because everything is feared. Others may try and try different ways out, edge of the abyssonly to find that each door just leads them deeper into the maze of despair.

Sometimes it is right at the edge of the abyss that many finally figure out that help has been with them all along. They stop. Some get down on their knees, some just look up; but all eventually say, “Not my will but thy will be done.” They offload their troubles to the only power strong enough to bear any burden. In that moment they experience liberation from the troubles and darkness that have surrounded them. They have chosen to listen to the voice of Hope and they have used the last flicker of the candle of hope to relight the candle of faith. They will see the candles of love and peace also be quickly reignited in their lives as well when they stop doing the things that have been pushing others away.

So listen to the voice of hope. That will also let you hear the voices of faith, love and peace in your life. If you can do that, the calliope of negative noise that tries to overwhelm you from time to time will be shut outlistening toi music of your life. Think of it as if you are wearing a set of noise canceling earphones and the only thing you can hear is a playlist made up of the pleasant sounds and tunes of hope, faith, love and peace. People will wonder why you are walking around with a smile on your face all the time. Maybe you’ll even have time to read the book by Pastor Furtick – Crash the Chaterbox.


Where there is hope there can never be complete darkness…

January 27, 2014

Pastor Jack Freed, the retired pastor at my church, was a guest pastor this past weekend and preached on a theme of hope.  I get quite a bit of the inspiration for my blog posts from Jack’s daily blog posts in his blog – Jack’s Winning Words. In his sermon, he told the story of the four candles- the candles of peace, faith, love and hope.

I looked up the story he used on the internet (as you can almost everything these days).  There were lots of results returned, as the story has been told and retold many times. I chose to watch the YouTube Video about the story of the four candles that I have linked to here.

Candle Stock Photo By Arvind Balaraman, published on 15 September 2010  Stock Photo - image ID: 10020552

Candle Stock Photo By Arvind Balaraman, published on 15 September 2010 Stock Photo – image ID: 10020552

I am struck by a two things in this story…the sadness of the first three candles slowly going out; as first peace and then faith and then love were extinguished, as much caused my being ignored or cast aside in our modern world as anything else.

It sometimes may appear that no one wants peace anymore, but I suspect that for those caught up in the ongoing conflict in Syria, peace is very dear to them and something that they would welcome into their homes. For most of us the concept of peace in our lives probably does not include a stoppage of bombings and killing; but, it probably does include the secession of many disturbing things going on around us.

Faith often gets hidden because it seems not to be hip or “with it” and then eventually it gets pushed aside in the pursuit of material things or power in our very secular world. Faith also requires a humbleness that the hubris of our world is want to deride. Faith also requires a letting go of the concept that we can solve everything ourselves. It depends upon believing in a higher power that we can call upon in times of need.

Love, one would think would have stayed lit, even in the face of the loss of peace and faith; however, when peace and faith are taken away, fear often becomes one of the strongest emotions in many people’s lives and perhaps that crowds out love, too. Fear also causes isolation, so loved ones may be forgotten or pushed away.

In the end, with peace and faith and love seemingly gone we really do only have hope left to light the way out of whatever darkness in which we find ourselves.  For many people that is a darkness of the mind, sometimes called despair. It is a darkness unlike any that we have ever experienced.

I recall a trip I took with my son when he was little and we were in Indian Guides together. We spent the night in a cave. As part of that trip we took a boat ride on the underground river that flowed through the cave. When we were well underground the guide stopped the boat, which had headlights to see where we were going, and extinguished the lights. I had never been in total darkness like that before. It was scary. Then the guide lit a single match and in that total darkness there was enough light to see everything around us from that one tiny flame. Hope is like that tiny flame. As long as you keep hope lit you will not be in total darkness.

The second thing that struck me is the use of the image of the little child as the means of relighting the candles of love and faith and peace. That is an image of innocence and purity. It is the image of the ability to love without questioning or demanding. It is the image of that state of humbleness and acceptance that lets faith back in to our lives. And, it is the image of peace of the little child playing in a home or street without fear.

So watch the video (again, if you already did) and ask yourself if you have let the candles of peace or faith or love go out in your life. Maybe you have been through experiences that caused these things to be extinguished in your life and maybe things look pretty bleak; but, remember that as long as you cling to hope you are not in total darkness and you have the means of reigniting the other three candles in your life. Never lose hope. Drop the adult façade and become a child again and light the other three candles in your life. The darkness in your life will quickly drop away.


Never lose hope…

January 25, 2013

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” (MLK, Jr.) – from the Jack’s Winning Words blog that I so often used as inspiration.

MLK image over DOwntown MIlfordI marched in the recent MLK Day parade –“March On Main Street” – in Milford. It was a cold day, but an inspirational one. One thing that really hit me was that most of the parade organizers and marchers were way too young to have any personal ,memories of Dr. King or the events leading up to and surrounding his famous “I have a Dream” speech on the National Mall in Washington D.C. I also didn’t know, until one of the speakers at Milford’s parade mentioned it, that Dr. King had actually delivered that same speech weeks before in Detroit.

The words that Jack chose for today’s Winning Words post are certainly words to live by. We all face disappointments in life and it is only through continued hope that we keep striving.  I think we could add that we sometimes need infinite patience and persistence, too.

I read recently about a young man, who is an entrepreneur, trying to launch his first company.  He became discouraged after he had pitched his idea a few times to potential backers and been turned down each time. After much introspection, he decided that he needed to steel himself against those inevitable setbacks; so he set out on an unusual self-improvement project. He decided to take 100 days and to go out and ask something outrageous of total strangers so that he would experience their rejections and become less sensitive to failures. No matter how outrageous his requests, he discovered that he didn’t always get turned down. He also came to realize that he didn’t need to take personally the rejections that he was getting most of the time. He also moved from being terrified the first few times out to seek rejection, he actually began to enjoy it.

Now there are life lessons in that story for all of us. Many of us avoid doing things that we should be doing in business or life out of a fear of rejection. A couple of years ago, I did a bunch of up-and-down- the-street cold calling on behalf of a business. I hate cold calling; but, after a few calls I found that I was enjoying the challenge. I met lots of new people. I didn’t always fail and got a lot of business cards out to local companies. Sure I got thrown out of a few places (the ones with No Soliciting signs that were really serious about it), but I also got into many places that had those signs and discovered a welcome reception once I was in. I guess I was running on infinite hope for most of the time.

Right now, having been patient and persistent for the last few years, I’m hopeful that the real estate market is indeed coming back in this area. All the signs point to that. We just need more homeowners who hunkered down to ride this thing out to come up for air and see if now is the time to sell. We have lots of buyers and not enough homes to show them right now. So give me a call and I’ll work with you to see if market values have recovered enough for you to consider selling. If it’s not yet he right time for your home, don’t give up hope!