The Power of Hope is Real for You & for Society

by Jan Roberts
 The power of hope IS real. Hope is the belief that circumstances will get better. It’s not a wish for things to get better — it’s the actual belief, the knowledge that things will get better, no matter how big or small. Hope has the amazing power to create positive change for individuals and for society.

On the individual level, hope has a healing impact in the treatment of personal mental challenges. For instance, studies have shown that Hope Therapy is effective in a variety of situations ranging from mothers of children with cancer to amphetamine users. In fact, the emerging field of the Science of Positive Psychology is shifting the focus in the field of mental health from pathology to the positive features that make life worth living.

Even when problems seem overwhelming and entrenched, hope can generate the energy to make the changes necessary to overcome them. A research study on an approach known as the “Graduation model” ( graduating people out of poverty) involving 21,000 of the world’s poorest people  in six countries  the course of three years showed the large and lasting impact of a simple aid package.  The heart of the aid package was the gift of a cow, bees or a few goats in addition to short term basic food or cash support to reduce the need to sell their new asset in an emergency and a savings account to help put away money to invest or use in a future emergency.

The outcome was that the people had significantly more assets and savings, spent more time working, went hungry on fewer days and experienced lower levels of stress and improved physical health. Hopelessness becomes self-fulfilling. Give people reason to hope that they can achieve a better life, and that, too, can be self-fulfilling.

What is true on the individual level can also be true on the societal level. If we believe that it is possible for our society to be one in which all people can have lives of dignity, safety and comfort, then we are more motivated to make that happen.

As political economist Gar Alperovitz points out there have been major positive national and global outcomes that were unexpected. His examples include the end of Apartheid, the fall of the Berlin wall, the civil rights and women’s movements.  So, please suspend your cynicism or pessimism for a few moments and read on.

Here is just a few examples to give you hope:

  • Mexican American Ethnics teacher Curtis Acosta closed the achievement gap in a Tucson High School by incorporating the ethnic studies into the core curricula.
  • A Cooperative of Lobstering Families and a Community Development Financial Institution in Maine creatively increased water access for local lobster fishermen leading to improved financial lives for thousands of families.
  • Kodiak Electric Association in Alaska reached its goal of 99% use of alternative energy in 2014.
  • Nadine Smith is an African American lesbian, who grew up during the anti-gay times of Anita Bryant in Florida, co-founded an organization that has created model anti-bullying programs and human rights ordinances that have been replicated nationally.
  • Evergreen Cooperatives have captured the purchasing power of major anchor institutions in Cleveland to create good livelihoods for the worker owners and prosperity in the community.


There are thousands of more examples; all that is necessary is a belief that hope for society is possible and a little effort to uncover them. Here is a little help in doing that.

  • Comprehensive information on state-of-the-art strategies for democratic andcommunity-based economic development.
  • Real alternatives to create the kind of society and the world we’d like now and for future generations.
  • Inspiring social, economic and social change in cities through journalism and events.
  • Revitalization news for leaders and students of community and planet renewal.
  • Video interviews with social change agents around the U.S.

There may be reasons and events that make us feel like our efforts to create a better life or society for ourselves is not possible. Yet, we need not be caught in an endless cycle of hopelessness and despair. The power of hope is real and is creating significant change for people, communities and societies, we just need to believe in the possibility.  It is my hope that the research and examples cited above help you to do so.











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