The beautifully moving line “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope” was uttered by Martin Luther King on February 6, 1968. The sentiment of the quote is that a short term disappointment or failure should not determine our hopes or expectations for the future. In short, we must remain focused on hoping for a better tomorrow and accept disappointment as a temporary setback. King had made this statement in the context of a speech during the Civil Rights Movement. However, the powerful message embodied in the remark can be easily applied to daily life. Let us ponder some of the reasons why we must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
Life Is Long
Life is long and giving up on hope makes the journey infinitely harder. Giving up on hope is like giving up on food and water. It doesn’t serve any purpose and compounds misery. Hope makes the journey through life’s stumbling blocks more bearable. And it also teaches resilience, should even tougher times come. Hope for a better tomorrow makes an individual’s present more focused. It is after all imagination and hard work both that make for lasting success.
Without hope, we would find ourselves constantly dwelling on they why and how. Living in the present requires us to consciously cultivate hope at every turn. Responsibilities don’t magically disappear because of tragedies. We still have to wake up each day and carry on as before. This is also why we must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope. Hope makes getting through another day easier. It may not change our future immediately but it changes our attitudes and abilities to withstand challenges forever.
Future Is Uncertain
We may believe that our future is within our control but the harsh truth is that life is unpredictable. Destiny cannot be forced, guided or led. It does what it needs to and when it decides to. Hope is then what makes searching for the truth, meaning and reasoning of life more bearable. Wouldn’t life be more pleasurable if we stopped looking for answers and surrendered to God’s master plan? In hoping for a better tomorrow and giving ourselves up to the magical workings of the universe, we are at peace to live our lives with much less uncertainty and distress. After all, what is meant to happen will happen and what isn’t, won’t. Another reason why we must accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.
The fact is that fortune changes on a dime. Preparation is key to being able to handle the good times with ease and grace. Disappointments help restore balance. They make an individual treat both failure and success with equanimity. In the long run, this balance serves to our life more peaceful and unsettled.
Life Is Surprising
Have you ever come across incidents in your personal life when despite no effort from your end, you were rewarded with great achievement. Have you ever received an undeserved compliment or an unexpected reward or bounty of success? That is the sorcery of the universe at work. If you only focused on the unexpected and unwanted disappointments in your life, you would not be able to enjoy the equally unforeseen benevolence and treasures life bestows on you. It’s a disservice to your maker if you only focus on the pain and sorrow in your life. Disappointments remind us to remain eternally thankful for the advantages, blessings and boons.
A person who starts out as a pauper one day may very well become king the next. Even if this sounds too implausible, you would agree that circumstances are ever evolving and aren’t guided by desire. What you want you may not get but you what you deserve and what is yours for the taking, you surely will. It’s the waiting that is hard. Ultimately, hope makes the break less torturous.
Challenges Strengthen You
The challenges that life throws our way have a way of strengthening our minds, hearts and most importantly our resolves. These tests from the Almighty are just rewards in disguise-a way for us to contemplate our faith, our beliefs, and our path more intensely. People who survive challenges with their hope intact feel as if they were born anew, refreshed and with greater clarity.
Consider this situation. You find yourself working long hours, sacrificing, sleep, family time, even health for a promotion. Months pass and you feel you are at the end of your tether. You think of giving up, quitting, sending in your resignation. But you decide to wait. The agony grows-you ask God- “Have I not been working hard. Why is this so never ending?” You make big promises. I will always be grateful. I will be a kinder, better person. I’ll devote more time to the family. More time passes.
You finally learn you have received the long desired promotion. You feel you have conquered a war, climbed a mountain. Your resolve to work hard becomes stronger. You savor the feeling and count your blessings more sincerely because you know there was a time circumstances were impossible. Without disappointment or challenges, an individual becomes complacent, arrogant, loses his faith. Disappointments make us cherish our triumphs that much deeper and make us more appreciative of those who stuck by us when the going was rough. A kinder, gentler soul is forged from the fires of torment.
Hope Is Healing and Humbling
Hope is healing and hope is omnipresent. Much like the sun that pierces the dark after a long, dark night, success follows strife. Much like summer after a long, brutal winter or the calm after a storm, joy after sorrow is guaranteed. And in the meantime, we must nurture and treasure hope. Hope can be humbling. Sorrows and disasters challenge our preconceived notions and check our arrogance. They make us more cognizant of our blessings and privileges. They make us more careful, more aware of not repeating the same mistakes. They make our path clearer, our minds purer, our hearts lighter. It makes us more in touch with God and our faith.
People have found a deeper respect and appreciation for their time on earth after facing tragedies. The successes have felt sweeter. Hope helps to heal the wounds and prepare you for a better tomorrow. Your own challenges make you kinder in your relationship with others, unwilling to attract more bad luck or misfortune. And over time, this becomes a natural progression of your personality.
Hope Builds Communities
Disappointments and tragedies bring us closer to our fellow man. True and lasting friendships are built on shared sorrows. In the absence of hopes and struggles, these valuable relationships would not be forged. We need to experience pain to understand pain. Without the experience, we can never sincerely empathize with those less fortunate.
You know how they say its lonely at the top. They are right. Its the relationships you create when you are at your lowest that last the longest. The relationships nurtured when you are are at your loneliest with being hope being your only companion that have the best chance of surviving success.
The power of numbers cannot be underscored enough. When Martin Luther King made these original remarks he was encouraging his followers to not give up on progress and upliftment of the marginalized African American population in the country. And he is not the only one. Other civil rights leaders across the world from Gandhi to Nelson Mandela have espoused the importance of hope and patience.
A community of people will never thrive if they give up hope. All big worldwide movements for equality and tolerance have involved a long wait for their followers. It took a group of devoted, strong and hopeful feminists striving for years without change, that women were finally allowed the right to vote and the right to employment. Around the world, it was the rallying cries of hopeful and resilient LGBTQ activists that homosexuality was decriminalized in many countries.
In many countries like Saudi Arabia where women’s rights are sorely limited, it is the dedication of hopeful activists that change in Draconian driving and guardianship laws are finally being considered. Its the work of revolutionaries in the face of grave danger in communist countries and hope for a more equitable society that led to the fall of the Soviet Empire. And, the examples are endless. Ultimately, communities have always benefited from faith and hope. No change can come from focused on the negatives. Faith in God’s presence and in your own and others’ humanity must constantly be nourished.
We must encourage ourselves and others to practice hope from within if we hope for world peace and a more tolerant, equal world.
The truth is our relationship with hope is based entirely on personal circumstances. The privileged can enjoy the luxury of hope more readily. When life is difficult, holding on to optimism become equally hard. This exact moment when all feels lost is when you must hold on the tightest. The stormiest skies bring foreshadow the calmest weather, Everything is cyclical, ever evolving. Change is the only constant and much like happiness, sorrows and disappointments are not eternal. It may take time and hope may not spring immediately. But with time, you will see that good times do come again.