In the therapeutic process, hope is a strong ally of healing. At times, when faced with an individual who is deeply depressed, the hope of the therapist is a tool to help that individual find the way out.
What about hope when all is indeed hopeless? This is an important question for liberation psychology when the plight of multitudes offers very little to hope for.
In apparently hopeless situations, the first recourse for many helpers is to resort to platitudes. This is analogous to situations when one is faced with a frend or relative who is gravely ill. Pressed to offer consolation yet confronting one's own fears, uncertainty, and sadness over the situation, one tries to console with well-worn platitudes. But -- if one wants real hope to emerge -- he or she simply is present to the sufferer in his or her vigil. Oftentimes, in the shared space of silence and reverence, the very person facing death will gift us by allowing authentic hope to emerge, relating their experience to transcendence and mystery.
Liberation psychology assumes that hope and love are concomitant with human nature. Whether this is part of the "great deception" is not a consideration, for a decision and a commitment has already been made.
Writing from a Christian perspective, Jon Sorbino identifies an authentic hope that is part of the victim experience.* Meaning in the lived experience of oppression and victimization of many of the poor in the world is an important focus of liberation psychology. The eschatalogical linkage of the cross and resurrection of the Christ gives the Christian liberation psychologist a bias towards the "victory of justice". However, the hope Sorbino proffers from the religious point of view could be equally available to the nonchristian therapist willing to consider an "audacious" adherence to the validity of our deepest human aspirations.
Sobrino continues that often it is in times of crisis when hope emerges most forcefully in a community or in an individual. Natural disasters give witness to the hope of survivors who acknowledge the need for a Higher Power.
In the face of the immense "scandal" of injustice, the call is to "make the hope of victims our hope". And their hope, in turn, becomes their gift to us.
"Hoping against hope"is the way we describe what happens in the face of an overwhelming situation, clinging to the possibility of making a dent somewhere, somehow in the forces mounted against us. But we are not simply "tilting at windmills". There are unseen, unorganized battalions of love, and hordes in the wings yet unaware, who may one day align ouselves for the not-so-impossible dream.
*Sorbino, Christ the Liberator, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York, 2001.