There’s a beautiful moment in the movie, “Shawshank Redemption” when Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbin), who has been wrongly sentenced to prison for the murder of his wife, speaks to Red (Morgan Freeman) an old inmate who has already served thirty years, about hope. Red shakes his head and says these words: “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
Have you ever noticed how easily and glibly that little word “hope” is often thrown around? You’ve just got to have hope, it is said, and all will be well. And so it’s simply and nonchalantly sprinkled around like salt on our meals.
I become decidedly uncomfortable with this. Too often the word “hope” is expressed without any real sensitivity to the context. How, for instance, do you speak about hope looking in to the vacant eyes of a Sudanese mother outside her small shack in a refugee camp, with a starved and fly-infested baby on her breast? To glibly announce hope in to such a context is an act of downright insensitivity. Does that mean we don’t do it?
Let Andy Dufresne have the last word: “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Surely, then, a deep sensitivity to context will always govern the way we speak and act hope in to any given situation.