What Gives People Hope for the Future?

Humanity has endured so much suffering in the past few years. With pandemics, world wars, hate crimes, and mass shootings, it’s understandable why the Universal House of Justice, the global governing body of the Baha’i Faith, stated that “hope has become a depleted resource” for many.

RELATED: How to Be Optimistic: 7 Ways to Be More Positive

One important part of being a Baha’i is bringing hope to the hopeless because Baha’is believe that humanity’s destiny is world peace and unity. These global crises and calamities are like the birthing pains of labor — an extremely painful period before a bright and exciting future.

As Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith, wrote:

It is becoming evident that the world is not yet through with its labour, the New Age not yet fully born, real Peace not yet right around the corner. We must have no illusions about how much depends on us and our success or failure.

All humanity is disturbed and suffering and confused; we cannot expect to not be disturbed and not to suffer—but we don’t have to be confused. On the contrary, confidence and assurance, hope and optimism are our prerogative. 

So, I asked a few Baha’i friends to share what gives them hope for the future. I hope this will inspire those of you who have lost hope to find it again.

What Gives People Hope for the Future?

Dr. Allen Omid Eghrari, an ophthalmologist in Baltimore, explained how a shift in perspective can give you a more hopeful and positive outlook.

Dr. Allen Omid Eghrari
Dr. Allen Omid Eghrari

He wrote, “Over the years, I feel like my approach to daily life has been shifting away from ‘what do I want in life?’ to ‘what does the world need from me? How can I be of service to humanity? How can I align myself more closely with the divine will for this day?’ 

It’s a feeling of being tied into a more collective aspiration than my own individual hopes. That’s something I’m also feeling as a new father, that life is not just about my hopes but also the ones my little one has and will have as he gets older. There’s something about that collective perspective that helps me continually see new possibilities.” 

Allen asked, “Do you remember the first time your parent or friend gave you a packet of seeds and you planted them in the dirt? Although you hadn’t grown something before, you had hope that it would grow into a plant because you knew something about the nature of those seeds and their potential. You saw them [as] more than just small shells, but things that are capable of growing, because that parent or friend shared a vision of what’s possible.

I think the same thing is true for us as people. Bahá’u’lláh [the prophet and founder of the Baha’i Faith] says that each of us is like ‘a mine rich in gems of inestimable value,’ and we have to develop the knowledge and spiritual qualities through education to bring those gems to the surface. So going to that seed example, how do we see in ourselves and everyone around us, not just the outer shell of a mountain, but look past the rocks to see the gems inside and what we’re capable of becoming and manifesting?

That gives me hope as an individual because I can always make each day better than the last, and also for society because I know we’re capable of growing into so much more than we are now. Generation after generation, we can grow in our justice, our unity, [and] our compassion. The vision of Bahá’u’lláh tells us that a world with these qualities is possible, but we will need to help bring it about.”

Dr. Derik Smith, an author and college professor in the Los Angeles area, added, “The writings of the Baha’i Faith assure us that humanity is advancing toward a glorious destiny. I feel that I have the opportunity to contribute in some small way to this advancement. So, even though I will not live to see the day of unity and peace that I can imagine, I know that with God’s grace I can play a small role in bringing it into being. I have tremendous faith in the ‘wondrous system’ of Baha’u’llah — faith that it will allow for the great potential of humanity to emerge in all its glory.” 

Why You Should Have Hope for the Future

Derik believes that “it is very hard to bring on social transformation without hope.” 

He wrote, “Despotism and oppression run free when they are not challenged by the hope of the downtrodden. It seems to me that, as a Baha’i, I should strive toward hope, which I can use to power my contributions to social change. Hope is not the same as naive optimism that things will change for the better of their own accord.

MLK once said that ‘change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.’ As a Baha’i, I want to see change in the world, and I know that I can contribute to that change through a two-fold moral struggle in which I refine my own spirit while also striving to build a just and empowering society around me. Without hope for progress in this struggle, I can’t easily do the work to which Baha’is are called.” 

He shared that we can draw inspiration from humanity’s ingenuity, spirit, and resourcefulness throughout history:

“I am overwhelmed when I consider the resilience of the West African people who were enslaved throughout the ‘New World,’ and who created so much while enduring torturous oppression. If generation after generation could not only survive, but build indomitable communities and cultures through all that, then we can have hope that humanity will prevail, despite ‘man’s inhumanity to man.’

We can also look [at] statistical indicators which show that life is improving for the vast majority of people in the world. Life expectancy is growing [and] extreme poverty is plummeting. While people in the continent of Africa — and others in the African diaspora — have not reaped their fair share of the benefits that have accrued to humanity in recent decades, I am confident that justice will win, and that the human family will mature, such that material well-being will be extended to more and more people.”

Lisa Otey Spencer
Lisa Otey Spencer

Lisa Otey Spencer, a healthcare account executive in Nashville, added, “If you wake up and God has bestowed you with breath, that means He is not finished with you yet. You still have purpose and your story is still being written. I embrace the day with the understanding that I still have time to do what [I] didn’t finish yesterday. So the word ‘hope’ is not really something I think about because I trust and know that God has already worked it out!!!”

As Abdu’l-Baha, one of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith, said at a talk in Paris in 1911:

Lift up your hearts above the present and look with eyes of faith into the future! Today the seed is sown, the grain falls upon the earth, but behold the day will come when it shall rise a glorious tree and the branches thereof shall be laden with fruit.

Rejoice and be glad that this day has dawned, try to realize its power, for it is indeed wonderful! God has crowned you with honor and in your hearts has He set a radiant star; verily the light thereof shall brighten the whole world!

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