In a world in chaos, confusion and fear, I thought this article would be appropriate…
According to the Oxford Dictionary, despair is a state of the ‘complete loss or the absence of hope.’ This is a frightening concept, but one that is on the increase, especially as we live in such a self-serving secular world where external appearances, abundance and appearance of wealth are more important than community, commitment, love and gratitude. It is also so much more than just a word. It’s an emotion, a feeling, and like a disease or virus can attack at any time. Furthermore, desperation is a silent killer, forcing its victim into a darkened immobilising world and like a psychological bully leaves no apparent symptoms, while its non-visible scars become deeply embedded in the human psyche. And like all black holes, its grip on the mind is all-consuming, demanding and relentless as sufferers ‘desperately’ try to function against an overwhelming tide of darkness.
In recent months the number of suicides on the island has escalated as families are ripped apart by this silent killer. Desperation can come at any time and affect anyone, whether rich or poor. With its many facets and causes, including the loss of a loved one, unemployment, debt, loss of love, fear, loneliness and feelings of worthlessness; desperation is a hyaena that stalks the night. Ripping away any feelings of hope, it buries its target in bleakness, making them believe that there is no escape from their predicament.
Increased media and social media pressure are placing increased demands on us as we try to conform to the latest trends, ape celebrities and become more and more immersed in a shallow, unforgiving world. Indeed, cyberbullying by peers, internet trolls and the latest games such as Blue Planet and Memo, which actively encourage youngsters into anti-social behaviour, debt and suicide for their entertainment, is on the increase. And for some, there is no alternative, no escape and no hope and their loved ones are left at a loss of trying to understand WHY.
No guilt should ever be attached to despair; it can happen to anyone. What is needed is support through family, friends and professionals who can help combat and alleviate the feeling of isolation.
On the other hand, the dictionary describes hope as a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Even in the darkest moments, HOPE can be found, which is also an emotion but one on the other end of the spectrum from despair. When there is hope, there is light in the dark places and a light that shines because of our belief that someone or something can and will improve the situation.
Hope, however, should not be blind and unrealistic but based on our faith and belief that we are not alone in our despair and that we are loved and cared for in our solitude. If you simply wish on something to happen but do nothing to work toward it, then it is of no use. In order for us to fulfil our ideal of hope, we have to take action with our hope.
The important difference between the two emotions of despair and hope is that on the one hand, we feel that we are alone and there is no evidence of love and care, and on the other hand we know that our situation is being shared and helped by others that care.
Hope, while necessary to our well-being can exist with equal strength within religious traditions and outside them. Hope is compelling because it is universal and crosses all human boundaries of age, race, class, gender, ethnicity, and religious, political or any other persuasion. Everyone needs hope, and almost everyone exhibits at least some measure of it.
The word hope is, in fact, in the definition of the word faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Faith without works is dead. Hope allows us to approach problems with a proactive, positive mindset and increase our chances of success. It aids in overall well-being and is an effective buffer to stress.
The most important impact we have on each other is through how we affect each other’s hopes. Hope breeds hope. When hope exists, we engage with our environment more. Just as despair comes from other human beings, this is also true of hope. Being a positive influence on the world around you will inspire and motivate people to stay hopeful in their goals.
The capacity to hope is an indispensable human quality; even in times of crisis when confidence and trust have been broken, hope sustains us in our living.
If you need to talk to someone in confidence, please contact: –
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info at madeira-weekly.com