There really is no basis for hope. The data is irrefutable. Thousands of years have shown that we are neither better nor happier nor more holy. Kindness has not grown. Appreciation has not deepened. As we have grown older, we have witnessed more sadness, more broken dreams, recurring wars, poverty, sickness, and corruption.
On a personal level, I have let myself down so many times that I've lost count. To hope for an "improved me" seems like a childlike fantasy. I should be just telling myself: I am who I am, and that's that.
Why should I hope for things to improve, if progress seems so unattainable?
And yet, I am hopeful -- both for the world and for myself. I'm full of hope.
My hope is neither an escape nor an illusion. It is not because the vision of living in a world without hope is too bleak to bear.
I am full of hope because it is how I am wired. It is, actually, how we are all wired. This wiring is called our soul. We were born with it. We don't have to learn hope; it's part of our spiritual DNA.
Our physical senses enable us to experience reality. We see, hear, taste, touch, and smell the physical world around us. Our mind takes in data and draws conclusions. Our body responds to physical stimuli.
Unlike our body, which is the product of our past experiences, our soul calls us to the future.
According to Jewish mystical tradition, our soul is future-bound. It is our internal spiritual GPS, guiding and directing us. Our soul is a piece of the giant 'One Soul' that animates the whole universe. Our individual souls broke off from this Source of Oneness, and now yearn to return. The path of this returning is through healing the brokenness of this world.
The voice of our soul is always communicating to us, through our inner awareness and intuition, how to best accomplish our role in this cosmic healing. Sometimes it whispers to us very subtly. Sometimes it crashes through with a "spiritual lightning bolt" of intuitive clarity.
When a person loses hope, when the future looks irreparably dreary, then a living death sets in. In the words of a modern mystic, "Toxic stones gather around one's heart and one feels because of them a heaviness of spirit."
When depressions of this sort come, it is helpful to have a "Hope Check-up"; to examine if my "blah-ness" is not a function of my not listening to the hope which is pulsating within me. When the "blahs" descend up on us, it's time to actively seek out hope-givers, to help me tune into the inner pulse of hope latent within us. Moments in nature, little kids, small acts of kindness, and beauty can all arouse hope in us.
For the Jewish People, the greatest lesson in hope-giving is the message of Passover. Passover is a defiant promise that things can change. A powerless people, wallowing for generations in slavery, had given up on ever being free. All they could do is sigh and groan. They had given up on each other and even given up on God.
But then, in lightning speed, with no time even to let their bread rise, a people went out to freedom.
Hopelessness can become hope. Passover is an invitation to listen to the inner calling within us -- calling us to journey toward the better future that is always beckoning us.
It is a message worth hearing all year long.
If you'd like to sign up for Aryeh's pre-Passover Hope Series and receive 10 practical steps to transform your Seder into one filled with hope, please visit www.Ayeka.org.il and sign up for our Newsletter.