Lisa (who inspires a lot of my posts) wrote about the “don’t give up hope” brigade here. She comments that hope without knowledge or action can be dangerous. I agree with her one hundred percent.
I regularly see the danger of hope without knowledge or action on another site: Women who maintain hope, in the face of all odds, that they will still have a child. I am not talking about women who actively pursue IVF or other avenues to have a child. I’m talking about those who seem to live in denial, women who torture themselves, holding themselves in a miserable endless limbo, with this hope. They grieve every month when they are not pregnant, but they don’t do anything to help themselves conceive. And they get angry if family or friends suggest that, if they are not going to take action on X or Y, then perhaps it is not going to happen. How dare anyone suggest that they should give up hope?
I am not heartless. I can understand that indignation, that determination that they surely must get what they want, the disbelief that others don't share their hope. And I acknowledge that when I had hope, it was a positive good thing. But I think there are times when we have to give up hope: for our own good, for our sanity, for our relationships, and ultimately for our future. Giving up hope is not in fact a bad thing. But in our society, “giving up” is a phrase with such negative connotations. It implies we are weak, that we have not tried hard enough, that we are quitters. It leads into that whole “if you try hard, work hard, you can achieve anything” misconception (pun not intended) so prevalent in society today. Well, um, no. It doesn’t actually work that way, and we there are times we need to acknowledge this. Unfortunately, giving up hope or even beginning to acknowledge that it is time to give up hope, are the hardest things to do. Carrying on is easy; we know how to do that. Giving up is scary, and hard. A level of courage is required. And that is admirable, not shameful.
Lisa said that being without hope (for a child for example) does not mean that we are hopeless. She is right. Putting an end to the hope for that one outcome, the child, opens up avenues for all areas of hope. Hope for the future, for an achievable future, springs anew. Hope for our relationships, hope for a healthy and happy life, hope for all those new opportunities that had been shut down by our focus on the goal. Suddenly, hope is a good thing again, not something that ties us to misery, despair, sadness. Ironically, giving up hope is the very thing that allows you to hope again.