Hope is a tricky thing. On one hand, hope can be a bad thing when we falsely believe there’s a chance, when clearly there isn’t one. On the other hand, hope can be the absolute best thing, keeping us pushing forward even when our chances are the slimmest. False hope can be devastating, yet hope itself is often the feeling that makes the difference between success and failure. Actually, it is often what precedes miracles.
These past two years have been filled with fear, frustration, anger, confusion, and mistrust. It started with us being told that we needed to shelter in place for two weeks to help “flatten the curve.” Our hospitals were being overrun, and we were told that this two-week quarantine was the answer. Hope kicked in. We knew that this was a big ask, and that it would have an enormous negative impact on so much, but our hope pushed us to take that action.
Well, it wasn’t long before that hope turned into confusion, as that two weeks turned into much, much longer. And as the situation was continually mishandled, our hope was again and again knocked down. As the data we were seeing on television wasn’t adding up to what we were seeing around us, or in other countries, other emotions started to kick in… concern, suspicion, and mistrust.
In tough times, we look to strong sources–individuals we can trust. These people are usually highly credentialed and educated, have been reliable in the past, and don’t have a personal agenda. When these sources started being blocked and censored on social media and online, our hope took another blow. This was something I had not seen before, let alone so blatant, forceful, and far reaching.
Doctors, scientists, researchers, and other experts with so much insight and perspective to offer were simply blocked. Their posts and videos taken down from the internet and social media platforms. I watched it happen time after time as I tried to share the information with friends, family, and colleagues. These weren’t efforts to get others to change their minds or get them to believe something, but an effort to open up dialogue, gather more information, and share insights that we could add to our databases as we waded through what was true or untrue and what made sense and what did not.
The hope we had was fading fast. Our leadership was sending mixed messages. We were getting different recommendations from different health organizations. Fauci himself kept changing his position. When I saw that he changed the percentages that were needed to reach herd immunity, then heard him say that he was stating numbers he felt the public could handle (instead of basing numbers on science), our hope was once again knocked down.
Herd immunity, we were told, was the key to ending this pandemic. So many were given some hope. Then I heard one of the key scientists on the Biden COVID Task Force say that this was a virus with which we would not be able to reach herd immunity and that neither natural infection nor vaccines could get us there. Another blow to the science, as well as what little hope remained.
I could go on and on, citing hit after hit our hope has taken these past two years. It would be easy to give up all hope at this point. But I can’t help but think about all of the great stories of triumph in human history, where the only thing that allowed success and victory was hope itself. So, as we head into 2022, the one thing I am trying to bolster is hope. And from hope will stem the other feelings that we need right now to persist, fight, stand strong, and emerge as better human beings.