Biased by Hope

The future is far from bleak. In fact I believe it is now brighter than ever before. Not brightened by an absence of darkness, but rather by the growing belief in the constant presence of hope. This hope is not to be confused with blind optimism or a casual dismissal of the grave challenges all around us. Rather it is the unwavering conviction that tomorrow could be and should be better than today.

As physiologists study the human mind, it is becoming evident that we have a strong tendency to interpret information in a way that supports our preconceptions. In other words, what you look for, you truly will find. Our bias becomes our reality. Therefore, it is imperative to question our biases. Instead of approaching the world as if nothing can really and truly change, what if we saw people and places, cities and systems with their true and endless potential for change? What if we became people biased by hope?

Before dismissing this idea as too naïve and simple for the complexities of our time -- hear this -- the challenges of our global society are more complex than ever before, and so also must be the solutions, but we must not allow this complexity to become our crutch, an ever-present excuse that allows us to avoid brave action.

I have a five-year-old son Cole who reminds me every day to question the world around me. Often when I offer him an explanation, the first word out of his mouth is "Why?" We come into this world with enormous curiosity, but as we bump up against the world's edges and question its boundaries, we are told an enormous lie -- "That's just how the world works." We hear this so often that at some point we end up believing it. So we stop pushing. Instead of challenging the status quo, many of us contentedly live out our days alongside the great un-solved problems of our time.

The progress of history has always required a stubborn soul relentless in their belief that things could be better. Before slaves are freed, or clean water is shared. Before women cast a vote or illiteracy sees an end. Before a word is uttered or anyone takes action, someone must refuse to accept that this is the best we can do.

Bobby Kennedy offered these poignant words, "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation." History, as Mr. Kennedy describes, is not a static or abstract concept. Men and women create and define history by refusing to be content with the world around them. They lead us forward in ways unseen until the power of their hope becomes an unstoppable force -- the force of what could be.

The age of cynicism is coming to an end. We used to believe that anything was possible, and we must rediscover that conviction now. I believe it is beginning. There is a new wave of hope quietly beginning to shake the very foundation of the world as brave souls are beginning to re-imagine the world we are creating.

When we look to tomorrow, let us not see another today, but rather the endless possibility that awaits. The future presents us with untouched opportunity. The work of each generation is to use that opportunity for good. Let us open the eyes of our imagination, like we did when we were young, and see past the current systems of our day. Let us look to a future governed not by what has been or what is, but by what should be.

To you who feel it deep in your bones that we could do better. For those of you who have broken hearts over the needless suffering and waste, who long in the depths of your soul for a better tomorrow -- I invite you to dream of a world worth creating, and to take part in the beautiful work of making that world come to be.