June 8 – Hope for the future

“Kids don’t make up 100% of our population, but they do make up 100% of our future.” (Zig Ziglar)

Not only do kids make up 100% of our future, but to me they represent 100% of the hope for that future. I see in their youthful eyes, and I hear in their innocent voices the hope that the future will indeed be bright.

Last evening my wife and I went to a Relay for Life event where we live. If you aren’t familiar with it, Relay for Life is a fund raising and awareness event dealing with cancer. Teams are formed and gather at a local park with a walking track. The idea is that some members of the team are always walking on the track, for 24 hours. Funds are raised for cancer research.

Last night we went to their luminary ceremony. For $10 people could buy a white paper bag and decorate it in the memory of someone who was lost to cancer. The bags had a bit of sand poured in the bottom, and then a lit candle was placed inside. At 10:00pm there was a brief ceremony, and then these bags rimmed the path as we all took a silent lap around the track.

Just a week ago yesterday a good friend of ours died from cancer. His death was sudden, unexpected and shocking. We decorated a bag for him, and met with another couple at the event.

Just as the ceremony was ending and the silent lap was to begin, I heard the sound of some young children’s voices. They couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old. Their parents were nervously shushing them so that they wouldn’t impact the somber nature of the event. The only thought that entered my head was to let these young voices be heard. For me, the sound of children represented hope. I don’t know if a cure for cancer will be found in my lifetime, I pray that it will. But these children’s lifetimes project three quarters of a century into the future. The hope for a cure is much brighter in their young eyes.

Later we stopped at a local watering hole with the couple that had gone to the event with us. We mentioned to the family of the friend who had passed that we were there, and soon they hopped into their car and came to join us. There was much laughter in the room, and it made me think. Here were this man’s children, out raising a toast to his life. I can remember when these children were, in fact, children. I remember them being at events, running without a care in the world, laughing and playing. Today they are all adults with children, and even grandchildren of their own. For me, they represent the hope of the future. They and their children, and those that come after them, are the reason why we all have hope, and why we work so hard to make this world a better place.

The friend who passed was a retired school teacher. I read the comments that scores of his former students made on his obituary, and on social media. Through his dedication as a teacher, he helped shape the minds of thousands of students over the years. He helped carefully till the soil of their minds so that they could grow into fine adults. He helped shape a future filled with the hopes of those young people he taught.

Any given day of the week you can read a story in the news about how bad things are. With the right (or wrong) mindset you could come to believe that the world is rotting away beneath us as we stand. Whether it is weather, violence, hunger, disease, or any of a number of other things, the idea that things are getting worse all the time is heavy. I read those stories too, and sometimes I get into a funk thinking about how bad things are, and will become. But then I think about gatherings like the one last night, and I feel refreshed.

Yes, there are problems in the world, and some of them are quite thorny and difficult to solve. But, as long as there are children, there will always be hope. As long as there are fresh minds, strong bodies, and untamed hearts, there can be change.

Today I am reflecting on the idea of hope for the future, and I am glad that it rests in the hands of bright, young people who will turn those hopes into realities.

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