Sunday, 3 February 2008

The lack of hope

I needed to write a short reflection on any topic and choose to take hope, and how we can see a lack of hope in our society. I will share some of my thoughts here:

In the recent encyclical "Spe Salvi", the pope speaks about hope.
With hope we have a future, with hope we have something to live for. However, without hope life can become very easy very dull, very grey. It seems all alright when things are going the right way, but it will be more difficult when things go wrong.
I think that generally in every persons live there are some moments in which one wonders what it is all about. Even when things are going well there is an emptiness, something missing. A proof of that is for example wealthy people who have enough money are either workaholic, so they don’t have time to think about life, or use temporal ways of stilling this unease within themselves. They can then often become addicted to for example drink or drugs, as we see with a lot of celebrities.

With hope I mean hope that lasts, hope for some fulfilling, and indeed hope for something lasting. This hope can only be found in meeting and knowing God and the pope makes the point that hope is really the same as faith. We look forward to meeting God after the hour of our death and the expectation of the afterlife. This brings purpose, this brings an aim, and gives reason to life. The least it does is it gives us a perspective, it gives us a goal and also a consolation when things are a bit harder in this world, but it can also give us joy and freedom.

I think that society in a lot of the western world have lost the sense of what hope actually is. Often then, as mentioned, this is replaced by temporal things, to fill the void or emptiness when meaning is taken away, and an uneasiness stays behind. There is no sense of real hope.

Also people might not know what to real hope is, or even understand that they do not have hope. I think this can be seen easier in the Dutch society than in the Irish society. In Ireland there is still a relative solid Christian and indeed often a Catholic base. Although this base might be eroding, generally most adults have a fair idea about what God is, what heaven is, and the promise of eternal life.

In the Netherlands however, I think this concept is much weaker, and often not really in the mind anymore. It is more important to life a happy life now, to live the moment, and don’t think too much about it.

It might even be the case that there is no real desire for hope of eternal life. This can come forth out of a lack of understanding about the afterlife, about Christianity and its promises. The promise of life eternal might not be perceived as a promise but as a curse. If eternal life is not understood, than there is no hope, as it would be coping with life as it is but then for eternity. Another fear might be that life eternal will be boring, and as such will not be a place of joy but indeed a place unbearable to live.

I think therefore that it is very important that we are not sitting idle, but find ways to bring people back to Christ. When they come back to Christ they will find meaning in their lives and hope. I also think that we must try and understand what hope is, explain it to each other, and try to make it an active, and not passive part of our life. God is alive, and we should try and make it known, so the fullness of life can really be experienced!

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