“My friends, love is better than anger.
Hope is better than fear.
Optimism is better than despair.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.
And we’ll change the world.”
As Jack Layton is laid to rest, thousands of Canadians mourn the passing of this extraordinary man and hang on to his last words. His record as a humanitarian and likable politician—no mean feat—will be fondly remembered, by the nation, including me.
I believed his politics unworkable, but respected the man himself, his passion and energy were inspiring, and few of us will attain that standard, and most like me will fall miserably short. Yet his words at the head of this blog, as inspiring as they sound, leave something to be desired.
While no one will dispute that the positive is better than the negative, I wonder what secures his hope and optimism and what motivates his love. The state of the world has not improved throughout history, and it’s not hard to speculate it has declined during the appalling last century.
If our eyes are upon human progress, hope is against hope, and optimism fails to face the truth about life on earth. I watched a lady from Afghanistan last week say, with tears; she has lost hope for her country. Even if Afghanistan becomes stable, war, famine, or plague will break out elsewhere.
But that is not to say that we have no reason for hope or optimism, but its basis must be beyond human endeavour, for our hope is “not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” 2 Corinthians 4:18.
For the Christian, faith replaces both optimism and fear, as, despite the world’s problems, we see God working his purposes out in history, and our efforts contributing to His kingdom coming, and His will being done on earth as it is in heaven, Matthew 6:10.
And our love for others is not prompted by reward or primarily their need. It is a reflection and continuation of the greatest love of all: the love God has expressed for us in Jesus Christ. We maintain our faith, hope and love, often in the face of reality, because they are secured in the certainty of His promises.