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Fri, Aug 01, 2014 01:55 PM
Issue of July 30, 2014

A hope note
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A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

Do you choose hope?

May 28, 2014 | 10:39 AM

"Hope is rooted in the spirit" —Mark Hertsgaard

The ground was so saturated from rain that, when I pulled on the dandelion plant, the entire taproot slid out. The slender white root was 11 inches long!

Human hope, like the dandelion, has deep roots. Hope reaches down to our core. It is our nature, as is the nature of every living thing — from bacteria to whales, from the sequoia to the dandelion — to do everything it can to live and thrive.

Albert Schweitzer summed up his reverence for life philosophy in one sentence: "I am life that wants to live, surrounded by life that wants to live." We, like all that lives, are hardwired for hope.

"Hope is chosen by the heart" —Mark Hertsgaard

Unlike the dandelion, we humans vote daily, consciously or unconsciously, for or against hope. Each year, about 50,000 Americans, in a population of more than 300 million, complete suicide. Many more of us choose risky behaviors — poor eating habits, under-exercising, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, road rage, tanning booths, distracted driving — that fight our innate hopefulness. Scripture says: "I set before you life and death, blessings and curses; choose life" (Deuteronomy 30: 19). Hope is a choice.

"Hope is guided by the mind" —Mark Hertsgaard

A dandelion does not lie awake at night strategizing how it should behave tomorrow, but we use our minds to choose whether to fly off the handle or extend a hand of friendship, to care only about No. 1 or jump in the water and rescue the perishing, to spoil the land or plant an orchard, knowing that we will not live long enough to taste its fruit.

Milton wrote: "The mind is its own place and in itself can make a heaven of hell or a hell of heaven."

Dr. Wayne Willis


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