I've been thinking about hope lately.
For obvious reasons, given the recent election of Barack Obama as our next President, as well as other reasons related to diabetes too. But I'll get to those in a moment. I have to say first, that when Mr. Obama's campaign began, I was quite surprised by his choice of the word hope for the focus of his messaging. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but I admit that I was also worried that it'd be perceived as soft or naive in such tough and cynical times. Hope. Really?
And then something happened. The word and idea caught people's attention and spoke to their hearts. It's almost as if people said, why not hope? Audacious, yes. Or maybe just amazingly insightful. People have always wanted and needed hope. And for so many reasons, this particular call for it, at this particular time, inspired so many of us to believe that a true change was possible. Hope was exactly the point. And ultimately, hope (and a ton of hard work and effort) lead to a profound, new reality.
My best friend called me the other night, all excited about a news segment she'd just seen on msnbc about some exciting research for type1 diabetes. The piece used words like "promising breakthrough" and "possible cure", interspersed of course with lot's of disclaimers and caveats. I tried to share in her excitement but found myself tempering my enthusiasm in spite of myself. Given the reality of how many times I've seen and heard this kind of thing before, I've learned to keep any real hope about at cure at arms length. Though I found myself saying yes, yes, it does sound promising, inside I was thinking, "Well maybe. I'll believe it when I see it."
The truth of the matter is that I've pretty much given up hoping for a cure for diabetes. It doesn't really help me with the day to day of dealing with the disease. Diabetes is here and boy is it real. Hoping for a future without it has always felt somewhat futile and disappointing. It's been a nice thought that's never come to be.
And then I got to thinking about this election. In this case, hope turned led to the reality of change. Though I know that politics are one thing and science another, hope, and the unrelenting belief in progress that it embodies is the same. Hope endures. Hope inspires. And at the end of the day hope can be the fuel for profound change.
So with that in mind, I watched the clip my friend had mentioned another time. And though I'm still not getting my hopes up too high, I find myself feeling a little more hopeful. Even though it might not be this particular research that gets us to a cure, maybe it will be the next one. Maybe it will be one that comes from research now that we have a new President who actually believes in the promise of stem cell research as a possible cure to diabetes and will likely use his executive powers to reverse the former administrations ban soon after he takes office. In 2007 Mr. Obama said, "I am frustrated...that we are preventing the advancement of important science that could potentially impact millions of suffering Americans...My hope, and the hope of so many in this country, is to provide our researchers with the means to explore the uses of embryonic stem cells so that we can begin to turn the tide on the devastating diseases affecting our nation and our world."
Hope. There it is again, the word and idea. There it is again.