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Hope-mongering: blowing bubbles of confidence and trustworthiness

Credibility Crunch engendered by Hope-mongering: "Credit crunch" focus as symptom of a dangerous mindset (Part #2)

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This is a relatively little used term, despite the frequent occurrence of the phenomenon to which it refers. Tentatively it might be defined as the process whereby efforts are made to ensure that people rely on hope that all will be well, despite the difficulty of the circumstances they are experiencing -- and seem to have every probability of continuing to experience for an indeterminate period.

There is of course a valid aspect to the process of such encouragement for those seemingly without hope. Building and sustaining hope clearly have their place, notably in response to desperate conditions -- as do boosterism, puffery and positive news management. Hope-mongerers may even be understood to be "lenders of last resort" -- offering access to reserves of trust and confidence. A notable example is the invocation over centuries by the Jewish people at the conclusion of the Yom Kippur service and the Passover Seder: Next year in Jerusalem. The question in what follows is how is appropriate reliance on hope to be distinguished from dysfunctional and abusive hope-mongering (Being Positive Avoiding Negativity: management challenge of positive vs negative, 2005).

If development, whether personal or collective, is in some essential way dependent on "blowing bubbles" of hope and confidence in the future, then great care is surely required in distinguishing the conditions when creating such dependency becomes dangerous -- if not potentially disastrous. Bubbles tend to burst, especially when they exceed critical dimensions of sustainability.

In a period when the world is challenged by global warming, it may ironically be appropriate to focus on the dangerous levels of "hot air" associated with hope-mongering and the bubbles of hope it engenders.

The challenge is determining at what point is the process of hope-mongering being deliberately, or inadvertently, abused to ensure reliance on a mindset or belief system which constitutes an unhealthy response to the condition. Especially problematic is when this is deliberately undertaken in the interest of those proposing hope -- who thereby derive advantage from the enhanced confidence in which they are then held by those who have no other source of hope.

In its problematic sense, hope-mongering is therefore an abuse of confidence and trust. However, given the intangible nature of trust, there are few conditions in which such abuse is clearly recognized and rightfully condemned. The following section (which readers might choose to scan or skip) provides an overview of the variety of forms of hope-mongering in order to identity a dangerous underlying pattern discussed thereafter.

The question is, other than the traditional economic bubbles and the financial bubble that recently burst, what are the other bubbles on which concern might be usefully focused? What other bubbles are being "blown"?

Crisis of the Mind (Paul Valéry, 1919)

Hope, of course, remains -- singing in an undertone... But hope is only man's mistrust of the clear foresight of his mind. Hope suggests that any conclusion unfavorable to us must be an error of the mind.

And yet the facts are clear and pitiless; thousands of young writers and artists have died; the illusion of a European culture has been lost, and knowledge has been proved impotent to save anything whatsoever; science is mortally wounded in its moral ambitions and, as it were, put to shame by the cruelty of its applications; idealism is barely surviving, deeply stricken, and called to account for its dreams; realism is hopeless, beaten, routed by its own crimes and errors; greed and abstinence are equally flouted; faiths are confused in their aim -- cross against cross, crescent against crescent; and even the skeptics, confounded by the sudden, violent, and moving events that play with our minds as a cat with a mouse . . . even the skeptics lose their doubts, recover, and lose them again, no longer master of the motions of their thought.

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