Question of the Day: “What is Hope and is it a good thing?”

There is a famous line in Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Andy Dufrense is in prison with Red and they are discussing the future. Red, who has been in jail since he was a very young man, knows he will never make parol. He feels his fate and Andy’s fate are both sealed. They are prisoners and they will remain prisoners until the end. But Hope is a topic of King’s novel and Andy is the personification of it. He is innocent and imprisoned, but he does not allow the inhuman nature of the prison to rob him of his future. So he spends twenty-five years of his prison sentence digging through a wall to freedom.

At one point Andy says, ““Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” This quote has been radiating in my mind today and it leads me to my question of the day: “What is Hope and is it a good thing?”

First, it is necessary to define Hope. Webster’s defines Hope as a “feeling of expectation and a desire for a certain thing to happen.” It is that deep feeling inside you that dares to believe in a better tomorrow despite the lack on insurance. It is the voice that reminds us when are in the moments of deepest despair that there is always another day. Hope is a power that when given words it has the ability to lift us and carry us to better ground.

But is it a good thing?

My old Irish grandmother, I see her bending at the knees, pulling rotted, dying plant life from her spring garden. The perennial flowers that did not winter over. The annuals who never stood a chance to begin with and were not pulled before the cold set in.

“No hope for this one,” she would say as she threw the brown leaves onto the compost pile. “Remember, Kelly, it is the hope that kills you.” And she would laugh to herself, though I was never quite sure what was so funny. The dead plants or the fact that something like Hope could be a part of your demise. I never asked her to clarify, but I understood that her sad life brought her to this place. Though I am not sure I ever believed her.

Perhaps Hope is a good thing, but when left untethered, when left without limits, it can be dangerous. Maybe Hope can only be negative if the expectations are written in stone and cannot bend and move with the reality of the moment. To grasp to an impossible Hope without any intention of taking action based on current circumstances is sure disaster. If this is true, then when Hope is tempered with desire and understanding in the mercurials ways of the world, it is a surer way to find success.

When Andy said to Red that Hope “maybe the best of things” he did it with a small shovel in his pocket, a poster, and a plan. He knew it would take years, but he didn’t merely hope things would change. He believed in the Hope he was literally carving out for himself. He realized the world of justice was not going to save him, so he created another way.

So in the end, I have to agree with Andy, or I guess King, on the topic of Hope.

There are so many wonderful things in this world, and Hope, well, I guess Hope is one of them.

Love and Light, my hopeful friends.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on