Minute Meditation: Hoping against Hope


Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the Russian historian and novelist, was arrested for criticizing Communism, especially Josef Stalin, the former leader of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn was sentenced to eight years in the Soviet concentration camps.

After his release, he wrote The Gulag Archipelago, which chronicled the horrors of the camps. For example, while in prison and on the verge of succumbing to despair and committing suicide, Solzhenitsyn wrote,

“All that the downtrodden can do is go on hoping. After every disappointment they must find fresh reason for hope.”

Drawing upon the defiant power of the human spirit to overcome the worst conceivable circumstances, Solzhenitsyn chose to stay alive.

My point, then, is that when we feel hopeless, when we feel as though we can’t take anymore of life’s hardships, may we hope against hope, choosing to go on with our lives. As I often say to my students, before I dismiss the class, ‘Stay alive!’

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