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Essay About Hope

Hope is one of the central concepts of theology, sociology, psychology and nursing. In fact, hope is the concept that seems to be comprehensible but, on a deeper reflection, it turns out that the concept of hope is quite complex and diverse. At the same time, the analysis of the concept of hope in different contexts helps to understand better the essence of hope and its application in different contexts. In this respect, the concept of hope is particularly important in the health care setting because hope, being applied in the context of the palliative care, for instance, is not just the matter of philosophical or theological disputes but it is the matter of life and death and end of life issues. Therefore, the adequate understanding of the concept of hope is extremely important because hope can define the life of individuals. For instance, patients suffering from chronic disease or receiving the palliative care need to have hope because hope apparently makes their life better because hope always have a positive connotation, regardless of the context in which the concept of hope is applied. Therefore, the application of the concept of hope may be extremely important, especially in the health care setting, and professionals working in different fields should not underestimate the significance of hope, while better understanding of this concept can help to evoke hope that may contribute to the elaboration of a positive attitude of individuals to their life and, thus, to tackle their problems effectively.

In fact, the concept of hope is quite controversial. On the one hand, the concept of hope seems to be simple but, in actuality, when hope is viewed from different standpoints, the diversity of definitions of the concept of hope emerges. In this regard, it is possible to trace the general trend in defining the concept of hope. Basically, various definitions of hope tend to view hope as belief or feeling that something a person wish is likely to happen or, else, hope implies a strong wish of an individual that something to happen. At the same time, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the concept of hope has a positive connotation but often this concept implies something desirable but unachievable or something that is difficult to achieve.

In this respect, it is possible to refer to views and interpretations of the concept of hope in different contexts and fields. First of all, it is possible to dwell upon the theological approach to hope. In fact, faith, such as Christianity, as well as other major religions, is grounded on the strong faith of individuals in a deity or deities and worshiping the deity or deities. At the same time, any faith is closely intertwined with hope because hope is one of the major drivers that make people believe. Religion offers believers a hope for a better life or afterlife and that is what makes people believe and worship a deity or deities. In this respect, it is possible to refer to Christianity, which has well-elaborated concept of hope, which comprises an integral part of Christian teaching.

From the beginning of Christianity, hope was present in teaching of Christian leaders. For instance, after the death of Jesus Christ, Christians believed that the new Messiah will come and save people. At the same time, the main hope all Christians had and still have is the hope on the salvation on Judgment Day. Christians hope that they will find salvation on Judgment Day, when God grants forgiveness and salvation to true believers. Hence, it is possible to word in the concept of hope, in theological terms. In theology, hope is expectation of something positive to happen due to the will of God.

At the same time, in theological terms, “hope” is, or can be interpreted as, an inherent religious characteristic and capability of man as man (Hage, 2003). Hope is a gift of God, which makes people closer to God as they are capable to follow the lead of God, observe His laws and make people hope that they will be able to follow God and to match His laws.

On the other hand, theological concept often may be close to philosophical concept of hope with its own specificities. To make a philosopher – and particularly an atheistic philosopher – founding father of the theology of hope almost dooms it to being precisely that, a theology of hope. Philosophy has its hands full in dealing with any concept of God, and a promising God is simply too concrete, particular and specific to be handled philosophically at all. The transition from a philosophy of hope to a theology of promise is anything but automatic, easy and natural; they do not have all that much in common. Schilling himself does come down on the side of promise by carefully specifying a radical correction of Bloch’s thought and inserting a God of promise (Fox, 2007)

However, the main difference of philosophic concept of hope from theological concept of hope is the fact that hope was promised to people by God – because he took the initiative – that man has even the possibility of hoping. It is the case that promise creates hope, not that man’s need for hope creates the idea of a promising God (Houser, 2004). This is probably the main point in theological concept of hope because the hope is granted to people by God. People would never have hope without the will of God. If God did not promise, people would not hope. This is the major postulate of theological hope but, in essence, the theological concept of hope implies the expectations of reward and fulfillment of the promise given by God to people, such as the promise of salvation on Judgment Day, for example.

In psychological terms, the concept of hope is quite different. In this regard, hope may be defined as fearing the worst but yearning for better (Fredrickson, 2009). Psychological view on hope stands on the premise of the fact that deep within the core of hope is the belief that things can change. No matter how awful or uncertain they are at the moment, things can turn out for the better. Possibilities exist (Fredrickson, 2009). Therefore psychological concept of hope implies positive possibilities that individuals expect to happen and changes that lead to such possibilities.

At the same time, psychologists (Freeman, 1992) attempt to refer to scientific explanation of the concept of hope based on human physiology. In such a context, hope may be viewed as the evolved antidote to big human forebrains. Unlike any other earthly creatures, humans can envision their own futures and, in so doing, all possible calamities. Without hope, humans dire forecasts might constrain them to motionless despair. Yet with hope, people become energized to do as much as they can to solve our current dilemmas, to make a good life for themselves and for others (Fredrickson, 2009).

Similarly, the concept of hope in sociology has a solid scientific ground too. The two main terms that are used to describe hope in this definition are expectation and desire (Swedberg, 2007). Sociologists distinguish three elements to this description of hope: (1) the wish, (2) its focus on something specific, (3) and that the wish comes true (Swedberg, 2007). In fact, these three elements are crucial for the understanding of hope in sociological terms. Hence, the sociological concept of hope may be defined as specific wishes of humans that they want to come true.

At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that Marxism represents a watershed in the history of philosophy as well as in the history of hope. What Marx has brought to hope is first and foremost the idea that hope can be realized in everyday reality. Becoming happy was always what was sought after in the dream of a better life, and only Marxism can institute it (Swedberg, 2007).

In fact, Durkheim shaped the basis on the ground of which the contemporary concept of hope was formed. Durkheim stood on the ground that hope has not miraculously fallen from heaven into human hearts, but must have, like all the sentiments, been formed under the influence of the facts. Thus if men have learnt to hope, if under the blows of misfortune, they have grown accustomed to turn their gaze towards the future and to expect from it compensation for their present suffering, it is because they have perceived that such compensation occurred frequently, that the human organism was both too flexible and too resisting to be easily brought down, that the moments when misfortune gained the day were exceptional and that generally the balance ended up by being re-established (Durkheim, 2009).

Consequently, whatever the role of hope in the genesis of the instinct of self preservation, that instinct is a convincing testimony to the relative goodness of life. For the same reason, where that instinct loses its power or generality we may be sure that life itself loses its attractiveness, that misfortune increases, either because the causes of suffering multiply or because the capacity for resistance on the part of the individual diminishes (Durkheim, 2009).

Today, the concept of hope in sociology implies the hope for something that means that hope typically does not exist by itself, but rather attaches itself to something else (Swedberg, 2007). In this regard, hope may exist in correlation to the social environment of individuals, dominating beliefs and social norms, values, needs of individuals and other factors.

Nursing develops health- and patient-oriented concept of hope. In such a context, hope is seen as an important concept that nurses have the potential to facilitate or sustain in others (Tutton, et al., 2009). At the same time, definitions of hope varied between disciplines but in nursing tended to be future orientated and suggested a dynamic psychological process had occurred, in relation to overcoming a health related event for the person to experience hope (Tutton, et al., 2009).

One of possible definitions of hope implies that hope is an inner power that facilitates the transcendence of the present situation and enables a reality-based expectation of a brighter tomorrow for self and/or others (Tutton, et al., 2009). Alternatively the hope may be viewed as the process through which a person works to emerge from the life situation at hand towards a resultant state of transcendence, labeled the reformulated self and becomes a person with re-evaluated priorities and new life perspectives (Tutton, et al., 2009). In such a way, hope is closely intertwined with expectations in nursing. In fact, human expectations may be that inner power directed toward a new awareness and enrichment of ‘being’ rather than rational expectations (Tutton, et al., 2009). On the other hand, hopes comprise an integral part of a cognitive process. Professional constructions of realistic and unrealistic goals need to be considered within the context of lay constructions of hope within the illness experience (Tutton, et al., 2009). Finally, nursing view on hope implies that hope focuses on goal attainment. In fact, hope is a response to a threat that results in the setting of a desired goal; the awareness of the cost of not achieving the goal; the planning to make the goal a reality; the assessment selection, and use of all internal and external resources and supports that will assist in achieving the goal; and the re evaluation and revision of the plan while enduring, working and striving to reach the desired goal (Tutton, et al., 2009).

Therefore, the concept of hope may be defined as The inner power or process that enhances individual’s believe in positive changes and transforms individual’s self-perception and transcends to positive expectations that make future brighter and better. Hope involves expectations, affects cognitive development, and leads to goal attainment.

At the same time, hope is very important in the context of the treatment of chronically ill patients. In this regard, five patterns of subjective experiences of hope emerged as: (a) externalism orientation, (b) pragmatism orientation, (c) reality orientation, (d) future orientation, and (e) internalism orientation. This means that chronically ill patients experience hope in various ways by focusing on different dimensions of meaning, suggesting the conceptualization of hope as a unitary construct may not reflect people’s experiences of hope accurately (Kim, 2005).

Thus, it is possible to present different views on the concept of hope in the following table:

Table 1. Concepts of hope in theology, psychology, sociology, and nursing.

Theological concept of hope Psychological concept of hope Sociological concept of hope Nursing concept of hope the expectation of reward and fulfillment of the promise given by God to people positive possibilities that individuals expect to happen and changes that lead to such possibilities specific wishes of humans that they want to come true and that are attached to their needs, environment, etc. The inner power or process that enhances individual’s believe in positive changes and transforms individual’s self-perception and transcends to positive expectations that make future brighter and better. Hope involves expectations, affects cognitive development, and leads to goal attainment.

Therefore, the concept of hope is complex and it includes three elements, expectations, the process of their realization, and goal attainment. Hope implies positive wishes of individuals and their belief in changes for better. Hence, it is possible to sum up the concept of hope as positive expectations of individuals, often in difficult situation, which are hard to achieve, but which individuals are eager to achieve and they do their best using their full potential and social environment to reach desirable ends. Hope has positive connotation and individuals have to implement their hopes and expectations to reach desirable ends, although often hope has unattainable wishes or goals. Nevertheless, hope helps individuals to view their life from an optimistic perspective that is particularly important in the nursing care environment.

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