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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Prisoners of Hope

I spoke to some friends that expressed bitterness regarding the recently completed family holiday. Seems that it didn't quite meet their expectations - family members late to the Christmas dinner, Uncle Bob got drunk, Grandma tripped on Junior's new X-box and broke her hip, etc.

Have you ever discovered that your fervent desire for a particular outcome was wrecking your entire life?

I saw a good quote today:

As we survey Jewish history as a whole from the vantage
point of the late twentieth century, Judah Halevi's phrase
"prisoner of hope" seems entirely apposite. The prisoner of
hope is sustained and encouraged by his hope, even as he is
confined by it.

--Jane S. Gerber (Editor), [1]The Illustrated History of
the Jewish People

This quote relates to Jewish history, but really applies to the human condition in general. To break out of our "prisons," we sometimes need to lose hope first. But the misery caused by abandoning hope is so agonizing, we hang on to our hope – and stay in our prison. A woman hopes for love, so she stays in the prison of a bad relationship. The Palestinians hope for nationhood so they stay in the prison of suicide bombings and self-destructive behavior. And so on.

OK, I am over-working this simple phrase.

Does "hope" fall in the same category as "faith?" Does it require belief without proof? Does it require willful disregard of facts? Is it a blessing or a curse? Or is it both?

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