There is a fine line between hope, belief, and intelligence, that once breached, can lead people to insanity. Though they may believe otherwise.
In his book ‘In love and war’, Jim Stockdale a Vietnam prisoner of war writes that fellow prisoners who hoped and believed that they will be home by the next Christmas or the next Easter, died heartbroken and depressed. They never saw freedom.
Hope is essentially a ‘wish’. Perhaps a response to fear or to grim realities. An opposite world. A fairytale. It makes us feel better of our unfortunate existence. It may even inspire certain actions. It may be much needed to face our mundane realities, and yet, it is but a wish.
Belief, in its most optimistic meaning may be a ‘conviction’ of sorts. A conviction that ‘this’ will be. Again it may create action toward a certain goal.
The difference between a hope and a belief is that of a wish and a conviction. One may lead to another, of course. For example - “I wish I can set foot on the moon” may lead to “I believe I can set foot on the moon”
Here’s the sad part - as much as hope and belief is celebrated and studied to be behind miraculous turnarounds from stories of dejection to pursuits of wonders - for a vast majority, wishes and convictions are just escapes from reality.
“It will all be fine soon” — a belief such as that is also equivalent of admitting that nothing can and needs to be done. Exactly the mindset of Stockdale’s fellow prisoners who never saw another free day in their lives.
There is an opposite worldview to Stockdale’s. The one that’s touted as being the biggest secret!. Believe and behold. You have arrived. This emanates from theories of the subconscious mind.
Reducing the accomplishments of what others have been able to achieve, and that you aspire to - to belief?? And believing that that holds the key — Wow thats a wish list, isn’t it? That you have cracked the magic formula, the secret, the magic phrase?
You do see how fairytales are sold, do you?
We escape realities. We create fantasised goals that even justify ends such as beheading soldiers, wars, economic crises and racism. Successes within these then become case studies for achievements…. and get attributed to belief and hope. And so what do you do?
You believe! So you can do the next heroic misdeed.
Hope and belief in a way define how we see the world and act in it. It probably gives us a sense of purpose and direction. A feel good direction.
Which basically means that in reality we don’t have a purpose, a direction, a good feeling - and so we wish and we convince ourselves that we can reach that ideal…. and then some do (may be….), most don’t.
We don’t stay with reality. This is not to suggest that sit, suffer, and not change. Inwardly we don’t stay with reality. We rush to create opposite fantasies, and so we rarely ever understand reality because we don’t allow our ourselves to fully perceive it. And then we never really are able to change it - for example we remain almost throughout our life in a state of — searchers, seekers, sufferers, fearers, believers, hopers….. and so on..
And there in lies the death of intelligence. The root meaning of the word intelligence was “capacity for comprehending truth”
What your truth?
Is there one that is not fed by the beliefs of media, news, politics, countrymen, or another one’s book, or preaching?
Well then, aren’t you a living example of the death of intelligence?
What do you find yourself doing now — comprehending truth or searching your brain for an opposite conviction?
Therein lies the answer to why Stockdale’s friends never saw freedom and neither might we.