Hope shouldn't be a four-letter word

For years, hope has been treated like a commodity, used to sell everything from political campaigns to stain removers. It's gotten to the point where hope has started to feel like a lie, the promise of something tantalizingly dangled, always out of reach. Or worse, the false creation of advertising agencies, designed to manipulate us.

The message is pervasive, yet fleeting--lasting only long enough to get us to buy their product. Like Charlie Brown and his dream of kicking that football, every time we end up flat on our backs, feeling like we've been taken for a ride yet again.

So why buy into the notion of hope any longer? It's certainly easier to succumb to the seeming inevitability of stasis, the false comfort of "the devil you know", rather than baring your vulnerability and risking disappointment.

There is power in hope, in the belief that things can change, can get better. That "failure" can only be our truth when we don't persist. Because for anything to change, there must first be hope that it can change. And with hope, we can find the strength to take action.

One of the primary tenets in the Declaration of Independence was the pursuit of happiness. It was considered to be an inalienable right, and we owe it to ourselves and to our respective communities to seek it out and allow it to flourish.

In these dark days hope is almost like a seedling, peeking out before the warmth of Spring has taken hold. We have to nourish it gently, with love and joy, and protect it from the onslaught of doubt. As we tend to it over time, nurturing its continued growth, its roots grow deeper and stronger. Until one day we can shelter under its branches, and it bears the fruits of our goals, dreams, and desires.

Better still, share your hopes with your friends and loved ones, and encourage them to share theirs with you. Let us bolster one another as we forge our paths, and reclaim the word from those who would abuse it.