1.15. Why We Should Always Have Hope

Because we always have the ability to change our systems—but they don’t always have the ability to change us.

The most important ingredient we need to create real, lasting social change is hope.

There’s no getting around it. You may be thinking to yourself: “Ugh, I’m so sick of people telling me to have hope, to keep hoping, to get my hopes up just so they can let me down again.”

I don’t blame you.

Our political and economic systems reward people who make grandiose claims and get people’s hopes up—regardless of whether or not they actually follow through.

Our political system rewards people who get a lot of votes. Our economic system rewards people who sell a lot of stuff. Exaggerating, overpromising, and exploiting people’s emotions are excellent ways to win a lot of votes, and sell a lot of stuff.

Yes, theoretically, if you don’t follow through on your promises, you might get voted out of office, or people will stop buying your stuff. But it doesn’t always work that way in practice.

Because once you’re already powerful or rich, you have a lot of resources at your disposal to keep yourself that way. There are plenty of people who use empty promises to get powerful or rich, and then manage to stay that way for a long, long time, even though they never actually follow through.

But here’s the thing. Just because there are a ton of deluded, cynical, exploitative pretenders out there doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for the real deal to emerge.

It’s tempting, once you’ve been let down a hundred times, to take the shortcut of not even bothering to hope that the hundred and first promise will actually come true.

But the fact is, the presence of a bunch of pretenders doesn’t mean there’s an absence of authentic, honorable, promising people and ideas out there.

The problem isn’t that those people and ideas don’t exist. It’s that they aren’t getting through, because there are whole industries designed to dress up empty promises and make them seem more attractive than promises that’ll actually deliver real value.

But we aren’t really as divided as our politicians want us to be. We aren’t really as shallow and materialistic as our corporations want us to be. They have to work hard, and spend billions of dollars, to make us that way.

If we the people push back against those efforts, we’ll win.

If we want to create a pathway for promising people and ideas with integrity to cut through all the noise and smoke and mirrors, and rise to the top, we can do it.

The reason we struggle to stay hopeful is because we can’t reliably trust our political and economic systems to separate the wheat and the chaff for us.

That’s a fact. We can’t.

But no matter how hard they try to dazzle us, depress us, or force us to pick between the lesser of two evils, we the people can step outside of those systems. We the people can reject those systems. We the people can change those systems.

That’s why we should always have hope. Because we always have the ability to change those systems—but they don’t always have the ability to change us.


This is the 27th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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