On Hope

James Prashant Fonseka
2 min readApr 23, 2023

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Hope and pragmatism can be friends, but they can also dangerously entangle. We need hope, but we musn’t rely solely on it. It is a delicate act to balance hope with taking action. I just experienced the greatest professional failure of my life. I can’t speak about it with any more specificity for now, but as I consider what I could have done to avoid this failure, I am realizing that I relied too often on hope when there were still corrective actions I could have taken. Hope must never be a crutch, or excuse for inaction.

Hope can be dangerous because it can feel like action when it isn’t. I am big believer in hope, and more recently, prayer. Both are essential for our souls and can help with manifestation. But they must always be paired with action. If you look at people who just try to pray away their problems, the results are rarely good. When there are issues, step one is problem solve.

Step two is also problem solve. When there more actions that can be taken that could change an outcome or resolve an issue, they should be taken. This seems obvious, but it’s easy to become paralyzed with decisions when the going gets tough and default to hope over action. It’s okay and even essential to have an undercurrent of hope or optimism when doing anything hard, but the focus should be on action for as long is it is possible to keep taking action. The only time the focus should be on hope is when there are is no further action that can be taken.

My observations on hope are simple, but hard to practice. We need hope but it can hurt us, like so much in life. On the net, I want to be a hopeful person. I also want to maximize my agency in life and effect the outcomes I desire to the fullest. I want to be clear that these need not be mutually exclusive. While hope can lead to complacency, it need not. I have just learned the hard way what happens when one is over-relies on hope at certain junctures, but I remain hopeful that I have learned a powerful lesson from it.

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