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The Power of Hope to Support Choices, Spur Action, Address Conflict and More

By Lynn Evansohn, L.C.S.W., The Counseling Center

July 10, 2024: We live today in turbulent and rapidly changing times.  It can be difficult to feel secure and grounded in a world divided, when we’re often confused and fearful. 

How do we find the motivation and resilience to address the many conflicts that face us?  How do we continue to process tragedies reported on the front page and in our newsfeeds every day?  How do we keep from falling into cynicism and despair, throwing up our hands in resignation when confronted with the juggernaut of technological change and problems both personal and public that seem to defy solutions?

One way is with the power of hope. Hope can be a formidable force.  But what does hope actually mean? 

Vaclav Havel, the Soviet dissident who became the president of a democratic Czech Republic, says, “Hope isn’t optimism which expects things to turn out well, but the belief that there is still good worth working for.”

Hope does not provide assurances, but it does help us find strength and direction in adversity.

Whether we are challenged with conflict in a relationship or workplace or considering the social or political conflicts of our times, hope rejects cynicism and despair.  Hope allows for possibility; it imagines a better outcome.  Hope opens an opportunity for vital new ways of growth and resolution.  Hope believes that good exists and is worth pursuing.

Hope may exist where you don’t expect it.  It can take the form of a child challenging parental authority, with the potential to gain independence and maturity.  It may involve a nation unsupportive of one’s values, with the opportunity to look harder for a tribe of like-minded people with whom to build meaningful bonds.

To be human is to experience conflict.  How we handle conflict, loss and disappointment informs the changes we make in our lives, in our communities, and in the world.

The historical Howard Zinn comments, “Human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, courage and kindness.”  What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will shape our lives.  If we embrace inclusivity, we will be included.  If we promote wellbeing, we are more likely to find our own wellbeing.  If we care for others, we may be cared for when we need it most.

Our individual hope not only supports our personal choices, but also engages the people around us.  By acting from a wellspring of hope, we can inspire hope in a group or a community, and initiate change that gains momentum. 

Hope can spur us to action—in fact, it’s fair to say that hope by its very definition inevitably leads us to do something.  Together, we can collaborate in work that reflects our shared values and desire to care for the world. With hope we can start to create the world we want to live in.

Addressing conflict can feel overwhelming.  As individuals, we can start with small steps.  Every step has value and meaning.  Whether we choose to reach out to an estranged relative, engage in environmental activism, work with refugees, or devote time to understanding a particular conflict, we are making the choice to improve not only our own lives, but also those of others.

Along the way, it can be helpful to seek and share inspiration from those who have gone before us. Daily meditations, lines from our favorite poets, the music of beloved songs, and art of any form that stirs us can offer comfort, consolation, and give us courage.

Perhaps you’ll find meaning in this excerpt from, “For Love in a Time of Conflict” by Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue: “When no true word can be said, or heard,/ And you mirror each other in the script of hurt,/ When even the silence has become raw and torn,/ May you hear again an echo of your first music.”

Even a faint echo can be enough to get us through a time of conflict when we have hope.


The Counseling Center in Bronxville, a nonprofit organization, offers therapy for individuals, couples, and families, through video platforms, telephonically, and in person.  Please feel free to reach out if we can help, by calling Dr. Jennifer Klein, 914 793 3388. 

To keep abreast of ongoing information and activities at The Counseling Center, or to make a donation, please visit our website at https://counselingcenter.org/.


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In July 2014, Lawrence Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital established a new relationship aimed at enhancing care, improving access and lowering health care costs for residents of Bronxville and surrounding communities in Westchester County. Lawrence was renamed NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital.

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