The other night I heard a massed choir of more than 250 young people ages 10-18 sing “Give Us Hope.”
The key line in the chorus was “give us hope and we’ll show you the way.”
It was a lump-in-the-throat kind of performance as kids from seven choirs, with half an hour rehearsal together, made the walls of Olivet Lutheran Church in Fargo, ND, shake.
In an era of gloom and doom, for many global reasons ranging from economics to politics to climate change, it reminded me that the older generations’ responsibilities include giving the younger ones hope.
Hope is a rare and precious thing, especially in the context of the nightly news.
We are certainly providers of problems, and (less often) attempters of solutions. Yet in the midst of our efforts, we need to keep an eye on that longer term picture.
Where is the hope?
Adults, mostly, go to work out of habit. It is what we do, and after years of all the problems reported and various responses to them, we are still here.
Our hope is therefore grounded in habit. We are here today, as we were yesterday. The worry we had yesterday about the world of tomorrow turned out to be not as much of a worry after all.
We have a sense of history, whether we understand it or not, because we are its embodiment. We are history, however old we are; the older we are, the more evidence we embody of the wisdom that “this, too, shall pass.”
My grandmother survived the Spanish Flu in 1918 and tuberculosis before antibiotic therapy. At 103, she reflects more than a century of realized hopes and unrealized disasters.
There is a point in all of our lives when hope is replaced by history, probably about the same time that potential is replaced by a resume of our experience.
Young people have promise and potential, not experience and product. Their lives are oriented to the future, not shaped by their past.
Even if their short lives are scarred with terrible trauma, there is the potential in time for the bad memories of those few years to be diluted or replaced by better ones.
As long, however, as there is hope.