follow ‘Business of hope’ is everybody’s business
Rubina Abu Zeinab–Chahine| The Daily Star
Emmanuel Macron in his first speech as a president on Sunday May 14, 2017, said, “The time has come for France to meet the challenges of our time.” He added that France has chosen “hope” and “looks to the future.” The leader of the “En Marche!” party, founded in April 2016, promised the French people in a “new way,” and vowed a “new start.” He claimed to “give back the confidence that has been flagging for too long.” The movement that raised the slogan “On the Move!” having more than 200,000 signed members, conveyed people’s will to change and move “Forward.”

The French president’s speech which marks the importance of nurturing hope in creating a better tomorrow for the nation, helping communities envision, and achieving a brighter and happier future is aspiring in terms of “we want to make this work.”

France, which has trusted its new president to lead the country at the most difficult time for Europe and the world community, gave the eurozone one of its truly good days since the economic crisis in 2009.

An election hailed as a “signal of hope for Europe” by Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission.

Monday, I arrived in Denmark to attend a conference on “Building Resilience to Radicalization and Violent Extremism II” – a country that has been regularly one of the top performers in the U.N. world happiness report and never ranked lower than third. This year, its capital was chosen as the European City of the Year at the 2017 Urbanism Awards, praising its green, democratic approach to urban planning putting citizens at the heart of decision-making.

Copenhagen was also selected as the world’s best city for talent in terms of growing, attracting, retaining and creating attractive conditions for talent according to the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2017 comparing 46 cities worldwide.

A bundle of research over the last two decades showed that even though it is important for people to acquire skills, talents and abilities, it is only hope that involves the will and pathways to reach the intended ambitions. Why do so many development interventions fail to demonstrate positive impact? Answering this question has pushed development researchers and practitioners to look from a different angle illustrating the values of communities that foster prosperity. Hope and future-mindedness are among the main attributes proven to be a key for societal success.

Hope that has been lately on the sidelines of development research today plays an important role in mitigating development challenges. The best cure is embodied in both hope and motive. They deeply hold the power and good expectations of the future. Many economists like Esther Duflo of MIT have agreed that “hope is the great elixir” and best asset in facing challenges and aiming for a better future. Is it time for us to go into the business of hope? What is the alternative of this business? There is too much antipathy going all over the world, where it is in everyone’s interest to promote hope rather than hate. A society of hope can inspire and motivate its people to dream and chase their aspirations more insistently.

Mohammad Sahid Ullah, researcher at the Centre for Communication and Social Change, at the University of Queensland, Australia says, “The quality of human life has been extremely at risk since the beginning of the 21st century due to the fearful conviction of people. Every day they are exposed to various types of fear related to natural disasters, terrorism, violence, disasters, inevitable social, moral and environmental adversities, as well as a crisis of trust revealing the world as a dangerous place to live and survive.”

A place where uncertainties and threats are growing and certainly a huge gap between expectation and reality is prevailing. Worldwide, we can observe a growing “culture of fear,” Hamelink stated in 2012. A fear that can only be faced by a culture of hope and dreams of living in a peaceful society.

According to Ullah, “Much of human fear is in fact related to the perceived dangers of future conditions and survival with human dignity; perceptions that are socially mediated.” Values of equity, empathy, social justice and environmental sustainability are as end goals and guiding principles for some good societies. The world’s richest nations are not necessarily the happiest. The Gross National Happiness Index does not go proportionally with Gross Domestic Product indicators. Following this line, the international community has started to make efforts to put “happiness” ahead of economic growth.

“The notion of a culture of hope is the sharing of action alternatives that concretely demonstrate how people are capable of deeds of solidarity, compassion, acceptance of differences and mutual respect,” Ullah says.

One can list many development approaches that shift societies from a culture of fear to a culture of hope through identifying strategies aiming at bringing the world back into harmony with itself.

Hope is a choice and the business of hope is everybody’s business.

Rubina Abu Zeinab–Chahine is executive director at the Hariri Foundation for Sustainable Human Development.


The DailyStar