When your desktop computer’s performance is slow, sluggish, freezing up, refusing to work properly, or worst of all showing the blue screen of death it is a likely sign that your machine has a virus or you may be in need of a software update. When your laptop fails to compute or is, as the techies like to say, “behaving buggy”, then you may need a new version of your operating system or updates to the installed programs.
Well, humans are nothing more than living computers and our CPU or Central Processing Unit is our brain and sometimes it experiences symptoms much the same as the machines we rely on to solve many of life’s problems or which help us to make informed decisions.
Updating a computer is usually pretty straightforward. Find the program you need, click download and let the new software install. Voila! Your computer is now up to date and it should be working like a charm.
But what happens when we’re feeling dispirited, discouraged, demoralized, or disheartened because of the circumstances of our lives, the condition of our nation or the state of the world? How do we repair the symptoms of a “buggy” computer when it is our mind, body, heart, soul and spirit that is in need of a reboot? It’s not so easy to download new software to get our internal computer up and running and back online. Or is it?
The updates our bodies need can’t be installed by inserting shiny computer discs or electronically transferring gazillions of 0’s and 1’s of binary code. But the update that will ensure that we once again run smoothly may come from downloading Hope version 3.0.
Hope helps us cope with the hyper partisan politics of personal destruction. Hope injects optimism that what has created fear and anxiety about the future of our democracy can in fact be beaten back. Hope can renew our energy and commitment to advocate and fight for equal right, human rights, and the rights of the marginalized and mistreated who are in need and deserving of social justice.
If you doubt the power of Hope think back 28 years to a July night in Madison Square Garden when Bill Clinton accepted his party’s nomination for President of the United States. Clinton ended his acceptance speech with these words: “I still believe in a place called Hope”. When he said that how did it make you feel? Clinton was not just referring to his hometown of Hope, Arkansas he was virtually downloading an updated version of Hope into the minds and hearts of millions of us.
Or think back to July 2004, four years before his presidency, when Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Obama called “the audacity of hope.” That phrase would later become the title of Obama’s best-selling book. And it’s impossible to think back to Obama’s run for the Presidency without remembering the iconic “Hope” poster designed by artist Shepard Fairey. How did Obama’s use of Hope make you feel?
When Clinton and Obama used talked to us about Hope they were providing us with their versions of essential spiritual and emotional software that could boost our spirits and helped us envision better times ahead. And if used correctly that software might just instill in us a new sense of energy and optimism. Their promise of Hope became our self-fulfilling prophecy because we trusted them to deliver what we wanted and needed.
If Clinton gave us Hope v 1.0 and Obama gave us an update to Hope v 2.0 then where do we turn now for a much-needed update to Hope v 3.0? We can find it by looking for those leaders who inspire optimism rather than fear. Leaders who share a promise of better times for all with a spirit of inclusion when everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has an equal opportunity for a better life. Leaders who promote unity instead of stoking division and class warfare. Look for those who connect with our better angels and pledge that a rising tide will lift all boats. Avoid those who operate from a mindset of scarcity in favor of those who promote a sense of abundance. Follow those who know that we shouldn’t fight with each other over the same piece of the pie but instead we can and should work to make the pie bigger. Listen to those who offer unqualified messages that send positive chills down your spine because they promote love over hate and attention to others and not to themselves. Seek those who show that they know the difference between rights and privileges. And size them up not by what they say but what they do and what they have done. Do all of that and you will have downloaded and installed Hope v 3.0 and your internal computer should be running smoothly once again.
We are now in the quadrennial season of promises by those who aspire to lead. Hopefully we have become wiser and better-informed consumers more able than ever before to look past the highly produced and self-promoting plethora of political ads on tv, radio and on social media. We need to learn to tell the difference between political vaporware, malware, and effective software. The responsibility is on us to look past bumper sticker and ball cap slogans and drill down to the bedrock of what our politicians are all about. And when you find authentically inspiring leaders download what they have to offer and be sure to install their latest version of Hope. It’s bound to refresh your internal operating system and your best chance to perform and feel your best once again.