The most important product that America has managed to produce is not the automobile, television or computer.  It is hope – hope not only for ourselves but for the world.  In these times of so much tension and divisive rhetoric, hope is what will sustain us.

America is, after all, a country founded on hope.

Wikipedia defines hope as an optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes related to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large.”

We recently celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and few represented hope more than the civil rights leader.  He said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

Consider also the words of another inspirational pastor, Robert H. Schuller, who said, “Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

So it is with a lot of important tasks in life, don’t look back – focus on the future.  Our eyes are in front of our head because it is more important to look ahead than to look back.

The future is what we have to work with.  Time travel notwithstanding, we can’t change history.  But we can sure learn from it. 

Businesses thrive on hope.  Hope is manifested in long range plans. Hope is apparent in building projects and expansion plans.  Hope is what brings new products to the market, and what makes salespeople tick. 

Hope is the reason most of us find a way to keep on keeping on.  Hope is what helps us get past the bumps in the road and find a better path.  Hope is believing that the best is yet to come.

Few people in the history of college sports have had a greater impact than my close friend Lou Holtz.  He’s the only coach ever to lead six different schools to bowl games – all within his first two years as head coach at each school.  How did he do it?  Well, according to coach, there’s really only one way.

“I think everybody has to have four things in their life to be complete,” he told me.  “First, everybody needs something to do – something you have a passion for regardless of age. Second, everybody needs someone to love.  Third thing, everybody needs something to hope for – something that you’re really striving to accomplish.  And finally, everybody needs something to believe in.”

In my mind, one of the best examples of hope is the backyard gardener.  A gardener is someone who believes that what goes down must come up.  Planting tiny seeds, hoping the ground is fertile, hoping for enough rain to nourish the seeds but not so much that they will drown, hoping for sunshine and warm temperatures, hoping for a bountiful crop or beautiful flowers. 

There are no guarantees when the spade turns the earth in the spring.  No way of predicting whether the elements will cooperate.  No assurance that the rabbits will stay away from the tempting sprouts.  And yet, they hope for a successful growing season when so little is in their control.

When you plant seeds of hope in your garden, or business, or life, there are no promises.  But there is a driving force that makes you persevere because you have hope that you will succeed.  You have something to believe in. 

During a sermon he delivered in 1890, Bishop Wright was expounding on the notion that the second coming of Christ was near.  He said that everything that God had sent man to earth to do was done.  A member of the congregation jumped to his feet and said that someday, man would fly.

The bishop responded with the predictable line, “If God had intended man to fly, he would have given him wings.”

Yet thirteen years later, in 1903, Bishop Wright’s two sons, Orville and Wilbur, made the first powered flight by man at Kitty Hawk. 

I wonder what Bishop Wright would say about the space program – another amazing example of hope.

Hope is a gift that we give ourselves.  Hope is a gift we can share with others.  Hope is free, yet losing hope comes at a great cost.  Hope is within all of us.  We just need to let it guide us to a better future.

Just remember the words of Albert Einstein:  “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.”

Mackay’s Moral:  When the world says, “Give up,” hope whispers, “Try again.”

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