Could there be a world without hope?

The word, yes; the emotion, no. Well, I hope not anyway! But wait…

The word ‘hope’ is from an Old English, or Anglo Saxon, word that was used before the year 900AD, ‘hopa’. Despair, or the lack or loss of hope, was introduced between the years 1275 and 1325. So, looking at the time difference, there was a time where only hope existed.

The word, that is. I’m sure the people of the time would have felt hope and despair in equal measure. I’m hoping that they were looking forward to brighter and better futures for themselves, feeling good and full of excitement, enthusiasm and expectation, only not exactly aware of what it was they were feeling. Can you imagine not being able to describe hope without having the word hope to use? An odd concept if ever there was one.

Although the word has only recently been brought into use, the personification of hope has been around a lot longer.

The personification of hope, Elpis, has been around since the time of the Greek Gods. She was the only item that remained in Pandora’s Jar when all of the other contents (ills) were scattered after Epimetheus (twin brother of Prometheus) accepted Pandora as a gift from Zeus.

Epimetheus represents after-thought (which could be seen as despair) and Prometheus, fore-thought (which could be seen as hope).

Meanwhile, Elpis’ Roman equivalent was the Goddess Spes. Spes was a cult figure, with many devoted followers. She was the figure that represented the Roman public virtue of Hope.

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the Wonders of the World and how they represent virtues, and today, coincidentally, virtues appear again.

The Romans had lots of virtues, personal and public, which were used to measure and improve behaviour and character, for a better way of life. Personal virtues include Dignitas (dignity, self respect, nobility), Honestas, (respectability, having a respectable character), Veritas (truthfulness, honesty). The public virtues include Bonus Eventus (literally ‘good fortune’), Hilaritas (rejoicing) and Libertas (freedom)… and of course Spes (hope). They have many more, which all strive for a better society, a better way of living for all.

A better way of living for all is a hope I think we should all have and share.

A hope for a better future is obviously more preferable to a future full of despair.

A hope that everyone feels good within themselves, treats others respectably, and enjoys life to the full, shouldn’t really be a hope at all… it should be fact. We should all be living that way now.

I hope that one day we can.

Imagine a world without hope… a wonderfully pleasant world where everything is as it should be.

This is a post partly in response to a request from Becca, and partly for one of my 101 task challenges: Feel Good!

22 Comments

  1. I should think life a bit boring if we never had to hope knowing it just would always be the way we wanted it. I find hope quite invigorating. Then again I’ve never lived without it so who knows….Interesting to think about tho’…Blessings Tom…VK

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    1. Hi VK, thanks for your thoughts! Maybe things would be a little boring to start off with, I hadn’t thought of it that way… but I don’t think I’d mind trying it… I can hope anyway! 😉

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  2. It sounds to me that since it took over 300 years for the word despair to enter the lexicon after hope was introduced that there was a lot of hope that hope was all that was needed unless misery filled the gap?

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    1. Quite possibly, LA… things must have been bleak back then so only hope was needed at the time… not sure which is worse though, misery or despair, but I don’t feel like going down that route anyway!!!

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