Become Hope... the World Needs That
2017 has been a challenging year for many people, myself included, and we have also seen a lot of nastiness prominently displayed in the world. A lot of hatred, a lot of ignorance and intolerance. It might be easy to feel overwhelmed by it all, or be wrapped up in frustration or anger of things not being the way one might want them to be. Now seems like as good a time as any to talk about the other side of that…..hope.
Hope is a common theme in many superhero stories. There are many superheroes whose greatest gift is to inspire hope in those around them, and in doing so creating change that goes well beyond themselves. So what exactly is hope? Why is it so powerful and important? Let me attempt to answer that
To me, hope is:
Hope is possibility.
Hope can be the good in people, or in life
Hope can be the belief that circumstances or people (including self) can change for the better even without a clear or exact idea as to how it will happen
Hope is contagious in that having hope helps facilitate someone to be their best self, and in doing so helps inspire hope in others
Hope can be one of the most powerful forces for transformation in the world.
If one believes that something is impossible, or in other words lacks hope, he/she will not bother trying. Heroes can help people stretch their own beliefs for what is possible for themselves . From that belief, from hope, action is taken that turns the impossible into possible. Dreams can become reality. People become heroes and change makers because of the belief and hope that they can. That is the power of heroes.
There is one scene in the movie The Amazing Spider-man 2 that I love because it encompasses this premise, and showcases the power of not just having hope, but becoming it. It is a scene in which Peter Parker (Spider-man) watches a recorded valedictorian speech given by his girlfriend Gwen Stacy while grieving her death in a tragic accident that he was unable to save her from. In this speech, she talks about the importance of the concept of ‘becoming hope’, which catalyzes Peter to become Spider-man again after he had previously given up and lost hope after her death.
A transcript of the important part for those who can't watch the clip
‘It’s easy to feel hopeful on a beautiful day like today, but there will be dark days ahead of us too. There will be days where you feel all alone…. And that’s when hope is needed most. No matter how buried it gets, or lost you feel, you must promise me, that you will hold… on…. To hope. Keep it alive. We have to be greater than what we suffer. My wish for you… is to BECOME hope. People need that. And even if we fail… what better way is there to live?’ – Gwen Stacy
After this scene we also see that in Spider-man’s absence, a young boy with a Spider-man costume steps in front of a dangerous villain, putting himself in harm’s way to protect others as Spider-man would. This symbolizes the concept that hope allows heroes to rise, which then gives birth to more hope, and more heroes.
I love Gwen's premise of ‘becoming hope’, because it implies a more active role in creating change in this world than simply just wishing it would be better. This scene has personally inspired, helped and guided me in some of the darkest times in my life because of the message behind it, and the hope it fills me with.
How exactly does one ‘become hope’ without superpowers?
The answer is that there is no one way to create hope. Many can do it without even trying or realizing it. Becoming hope is going to mean something different for everyone, and can take many different forms.
Perhaps it might mean:
Overcoming challenges or obstacles
Achieving goals that seem unlikely or impossible so that others can be inspired to do the same
Being there for someone in a time of need
Taking heroic or selfless action
An act of kindness
Being the best parent or friend or sibling that you can be
Turning weakness into strength.
Nourishing self or others physically or emotionally
There are an infinite number of possibilities and ways to become hope for the world. Only you know what feels right for you in your heart
'Be the Change' as a formula for becoming hope
For me, I’m sure you have heard the motto ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. That is my simple yet courageous formula for how I believe I can become hope that I try to follow, live by and strive towards. I dream of a world with more: kindness, understanding, compassion, empathy, authenticity, sincerity, warmth, love, joy, happiness, leadership, gratitude and unity. Becoming hope to me means taking steps towards cultivating those qualities as best I can so that I can contribute to that change in the world.
The reason this takes courage is because ‘being the change’ inherently means being different. It means being willing to stand out from the crowd in order to stand for something that you believe in, even if you might not be the one who will be immediately rewarded for it. It means being willing to make sacrifices that might come with that. I know I have had to make some sacrifices, but I've also gained so much. I've gained great friends who appreciate me for who I really am, which is deeper and more nourishing than any friendship I might make where I am not being my true self for the sake of approval. I've gained moments of fulfillment hearing or seeing the positive impact of my actions, knowing there are probably more out there that are unsaid or unseen.
I've also made mistakes and decisions that I regret. I have flaws and shortcomings. With hope: each day provides new opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.
Whether you touch one life in a meaningful and positive way, or a hundred or thousands, it all makes a difference no matter how big or small. You might not always feel like it’s making a difference or be able to see it, but I promise you it is there. Every now and then you will get a glimpse of a small fraction of the impact you are making, but the impact spreads far beyond our sight, it chains and grows. Like one candle lighting the next. Slowly but surely, the world brightens. When we are the change, we become hope for those who also want to see that change.
So if you wish to create a legacy and impact on par with some of the greatest superheroes, I would say there is a way to do it that doesn’t require superpowers: become hope…. In whatever that means for you. As Gwen Stacy said: 'Even if we fail.. what better way is there to live?'
Some reflective superhero questions to leave you with:
What does hope mean for you?
Is there a hero (or heroes) that inspire hope for how you would like to be?
What are some steps you can take to help become hope in whatever that means for you?
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t know how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Any change takes time, effort, commitment, forgiveness, courage and self-compassion. Take one step at a time in the direction you want to go, with pride for each step, and don't stop walking. Regardless of where you want to go, know that you are also enough right where you are
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