One of the presidential candidates speaks about hope quite often. He is correct when he describes hoping as an audacious act. It does indeed take courage to look above the circumstances in which we are mired, believe in the possibility of something better, and then strive to make that belief become a reality. He is wrong when he implies that real and lasting hope can be found through the selection of a government. And the depth of his error is almost immeasurable.
Hope is a virtue. It is a rung on the ladder of three virtues that leads us to God. As part of that ladder, it reminds us that we are the beloved children of an eternal and almighty Father and offers us the strength to become His ambassadors to the world.
The reality is that each and every one of us exists as a beloved child at every single moment of our existence. That reality makes every life, from its conception until its natural death, precious to a loving and caring parent. It eliminates the possibility of unwanted children since every person is, from the first moment of his existence to the last, cherished by the parent who gave him life — even if the humans surrounding that person do not “want” him right then. It recognizes that every human life has a meaning and a purpose.
It has been said that hope is the virtue for the memory. Hope helps us to recognize the hundreds of ways that the Father Who loves us proves that love every day. And as we come to recognize the never-ending signs of that love, we are transformed by it.
Those who dare to hope base their lives on the fact that they are beloved children. They use their connection to that eternal and unwavering love to face the challenges of their lives with grace and dignity. They inspire others to follow their example. Those who hope consistently become those who love — and their lives become beacons attracting others to the recognition that each is beloved.
Government does not love. It does not cherish. It does not have children. It is not the source of life.
Those who place their hope in government will always wind up disappointed. The state is an imperfect structure, created and maintained by imperfect people. Its connection to the governed is built on power, not love. And the state’s desire to increase its power is insatiable.
The candidate who is equating hope and government is telling us a lie. And when an individual believes that lie and tries to find the meaning and purpose of his life from the state, he finds only emptiness.
We cannot control the rhetoric of every candidate.
But we can challenge ourselves to look for the daily examples of our Father’s love in our own lives. We can take the time every day to acknowledge those daily gifts, and to share their existence with others. We can let hope blossom into love so those around us can begin to see themselves as beloved children of that same Father.
Throughout history there have been those who have sought to replace the source of hope in the minds and hearts of their contemporaries. In each case, those who knew the truth rose to give witness to it. Today, we are the generation called to be those witnesses. Let us make sure that history will record that we did not remain silently in our chairs.