Given all of the disastrous and devastating events occurring around the world, it is very easy to lose hope. In the movie THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, Andy Defresne (Tim Robbins) is wrongly convicted of killing his wife and her lover. In spite of his ongoing suffering in prison, he insists on preserving his sense of hope. Red (Morgan Freeman), who admits that he is serving a life sentence for a murder he did commit, warns Andy, “Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

Andy eventually replies back, “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.”

I have contemplated Andy’s statement about the nature of hope many, many times. How can anyone in his situation say something like that? Well, I believe Andy was not talking about hope in the way it is commonly used. I can hope that my sports team wins, or hope for a pay raise, or tell my neighbor that I hope she has a good day. That is hope as a wish for something positive to occur in the future. Hope as Santa Claus. Definitely not what Andy meant.

Finally, I think I found my answer. Rebecca Solnit has written, “Hope locates itself in the premises that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act . . . Hope is an embrace of the unknown and knowable, an alternative to the certainty of optimists and pessimists. Optimists think it will all be fine without our involvement; pessimists take the opposite position; both excuse themselves from acting. Hope is the belief that what we do matters, even though how and when it might matter, who and what it may impact, are not things we can know beforehand.”

It takes tremendous courage and commitment to act with hope. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies.