Sarah Chayes: Hope is irrelevant. It’s determination that counts.

I recently saw on PBS this wonderfully enlightening Bill Moyers interview about Afghanistan with Sarah Chayes, former New York Times correspondent. At the end of the conversation, they have the following dialogue:

BILL MOYERS: There’s a thin line. As I listen to you, there’s a thin line we sometimes walk, we human beings, between hope and folly.
BILL MOYERS: Are you very close to that line?
SARAH CHAYES: I don’t think that hope is relevant. I think determination is all that counts. You just have to try. It doesn’t matter if you hope you’re going succeed or not. You have to keep trying.

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I agree with the opinion about hope. It is indeed determination which counts. (Mind you, I wouldn’t use the word “try” either. In the words of the great Yoda: “Do or not do, there is no ‘try’.”) Consider this: At the end of the ABC World News on television, Charlie Gibson finishes with , “I hope you had a nice day.” I never understand what he means. Hope is about the future, if anything, so how does it apply to the day that has already passed?

I think “hope” is a word worth dropping from the vocabulary, as are words like “struggle”, “desperate” and “try”. When Victor Frankl talks in “Mans’ Search for Meaning” about how people like him survived the Nazi concentration camps, it’s not “hope” that he talks about; it’s about a commitment to an idea that some day he would be reunited with his family (didn’t happen — they were all murdered), and that he would be standing in front of audiences answering the question, “How did you survive when so many others didn’t?”

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