2022 Annual Impact Report - 9

Hope: A Verb, a Noun, and a Paradox
By Andrew Bland, PhD, Licensed Psychologist
Admittedly, I tend to approach
mission and value statements in health
care with a sense of wariness. In my
experience as both a provider and
recipient of services in hospitals and
counseling/mental health centers in 4
states over almost 2 decades, all too often they can be loaded
with flowery customer service language that sounds enticing
on the surface but, upon closer inspection of and experience
with the inner workings of the organization, turn out to be
cliched, sterile, and in some cases, outright inaccurate. On the
other hand, I do not see that being the case with Samaritan
Center's newly-adopted RIGHT core values, which I welcome
with appreciation and optimism. This is based on three
reasons. First and foremost, I have consistently felt these
values being enacted during the 6 years I have practiced at
Samaritan. Second, the values statement was not developed
by upper management and unilaterally imposed in a topdown
fashion, nor were the staff merely surveyed to give the
illusion of providing our input but with no meaningful followthrough.
Rather, the staff played a substantial role throughout
its development. Third, the definitions of the values are not
hackneyed and empty but, rather, grounded in a realistic
stance regarding the processes of change, of growth, of life. In
this brief reflection, I will focus on the value of hope, which
Samaritan staff " believe exists even in the most challenging
situation " and which, I am proud to say, I see Samaritan
striving to promote across its programs and services on an
ongoing basis.
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, " hope "
derives from the Old English meaning " to have trust " as well as
" confidence in the future. " Though the word eventually came
to also refer to a sense of desire or want of a specific outcome
(what we " hope for " ), in its earliest form, it shared much in
common with existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir's
definition of freedom: " To be free is not to have the power to
do anything you like; it is to be able to surpass the given toward
an open future " (The Ethics of Ambiguity, 1948, p. 91). In this
sense, as a verb, hope refers to the ability to see the freedom
in challenging-as well as tragic and seemingly impossible-
situations. Like meaning and a sense of purpose in life, hope
is not discovered, obtained, or attained but, rather, actively
created via a process of engagement with our suffering.
Hope is about letting go of our preordained script based
on what we think we want or need because it is familiar,
comfortable, enjoyable, predictable, expectable, customary,
or conventional. In that sense, at its best, hope has little
to do with desire, which can be understood as a form of
avoidance-seeking a quick fix that provides a false sense of
security in the face of a perceived threat, or a distraction to
provide the illusion of removal or absence of suffering. Rather,
hope entails choosing to constructively deal with struggle
by embracing uncertainty. It requires us to allow ourselves
to be unsettled and emotionally vulnerable, even raw, as an
alternative to falling out of hope (that is, hopelessness) by
clinging to expectations and becoming discouraged when, and
because, those preconceived ideas of hope do not pan out. The
moment that we spurn the freedom we do have in a challenging
situation, we also forfeit our autonomy.
In the 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption (based on a
novella by Stephen King), Andy Dufresne (played by Tim
Robbins) described hope as the " places in the world that
aren't made out of stone, " the " something inside that [no
one else can] get to " because " it's yours. " Treating the prison
where the film was set as a metaphor for becoming trapped
in the destructive aspects of our own mind, the stone walls
represent the blinders and barriers we put up in the face of
trying situations. Usually, these begin as a normal response
to the abnormal circumstances into which we are thrown;
however, in time, they become sedimented and assumed as the
way we must engage with our world. Often, hope involves an
element of pleasant surprise, and the part of hope that we find
reassuring-that makes us feel good-is the fulfillment that,
paradoxically, comes with having shown up to and heeded the
call from difficult situations by getting out of our own way. By
removing those blinders and barriers and asking the challenge
what it wants of us, we attune and attend to the creative
possibilities it calls forth in ourselves to cultivate: a new way
of being, of expressing, of relating, of experiencing, of feeling,
of thinking, of seeing, of listening, of saying, of acting, of not
acting. This sense of becoming lends itself to a sense of wellbeing
that prevents unnecessary suffering for ourselves or others
(usually both) by embracing what existential psychologist Kirk
Schneider refers to as " the life-enhancing anxiety ... we must
face to prevent life-destroying anxiety " (Life-Enhancing Anxiety:
Key to a Sane World, 2023, p. 1).
" ...the value of hope, which
Samaritan staff " believe exists even
in the most challenging situation "
Thus, we can conclude that, as a noun, hope is what arises-
springs eternal, as the saying goes-when we show up to and
embrace struggle and enact our autonomy in the face of it. It
is the outcome of having, with intention, creatively expanded
and deepened our being by way of a process of becoming
our possible selves in the face of the tragic and impossible.
Existential psychologists refer to that as responsibility (the
" ability to respond " )-the necessary counterpart to freedom.
What inspires hope in you?

2022 Annual Impact Report

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of 2022 Annual Impact Report

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2022 Annual Impact Report - Cover4