Dreams and aspirations are the motivating force that drives man to reach for the seemingly unattainable. Industrious souls call upon their inner will to persevere through the trials and tribulations that deny them their prize. For some, this pursuit has led to the accumulation of vast riches or the development of innovative technologies, ultimately benefiting both themselves and society as a whole. The majority of people, however, fail to distinguish unbridled hope from realistic goals. In the words of Jon Bon Jovi, they are “Livin’ on a Prayer”.
In periods of economic hardship, people often resort to “hope” to see them through the trying times. It was this wave of desperation that lifted President Obama, the most effective purveyor of hope in a generation, from the Illinois General Assembly to the most powerful political position in the world in a few short years. Similar to the charlatans that peddled medicinal snake oils, those that disseminate wanton hope often find they leave a trail of dismay and resentment.
While the inspirational speeches of an aspiring politico have given way to the emergence of economic “green shoots” and predictions of a swift recovery, the challenges facing the working man remain plentiful. The lucky few that remain employed, often desperately clinging to unfulfilling and unrewarding jobs, aspire to ascend the socio-economic ladder through career advancement and competitive compensation. Those bold enough to pursue these dreams confront an innate impulse towards self-preservation by threatened managers fearing the tenuous state of their own position and an ethnocentric bias that ensures those with unique backgrounds and diverse experiences have little chance for success. With companies choosing to sacrifice their human capital to bolster the bottom line, the alternatives for even the truly gifted remain scarce.
The indentured will undoubtedly find the pervasive optimism and promulgation of hope to be little consolation as they toil tirelessly in pursuit of fleeting dreams. The “Audacity of Hope” pales in comparison to the harshness of reality.