The virtue of hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage: anger with the way things are, and courage to change them for the better.
These powerful words (you can find them all over the internet) are attributed to St. Augustine. Unfortunately, they may not be his. A friend of mine who is an Augustine scholar tells me they’re apocryphal, and I have never been able to find their source. Whoever their author was, he expressed a true insight. Hope is a choice we make in the face of suffering and disappointment. Georges Bernanos once described hope as “despair overcome”—despair experienced, suffered, and overcome through the grace of God and the cooperation of the human will. Hope has a strength that comes of struggling with doubt and fear. It has substance, which hollow optimism lacks.
Like many Americans, I am angry at the way things are. Certainly, patriotism and respect for elected officials are important Christian duties. They’re especially vital in America, where the law—not ethnicity or religion or even language—is the glue that holds us together. Disregard for the law is uniquely toxic in our country. In that light, consider this: If tearing down public statues, defacing churches and monuments, trashing our nation’s history, looting and burning businesses, and months of violent rioting on the left can be excused by some as regrettable excesses of legitimate unrest, then how can we hold today’s anger on the political right to a different standard? The same gravity of the law applies to everyone, or the law is a fraud. The fraudulence of so many of our leaders in Washington is exactly what led scores of millions of people to vote for Donald Trump in 2016 and again in November.