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The Two Sides of Hope

Duration:
30 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 08 May 2011

We think of hope as such a positive thing but Mark Tully considers the dangers of false optimism, and the despair that can follow the collapse of great expectations.

He takes two examples.

On New Year's Eve 1918, the ship, the Lolaire (Pro: You Lair Uh) was bringing over 300 survivors of the First World War back to their loved ones on the Hebridean Island of Lewis and Harris. This return was one of great hope - for those returning, for those waiting, for the Island, and for the world after such a catastrophic war which had ended just six weeks before.

The following day would be a New Year. But in the small hours the ship was caught in a storm as it approached the harbour and sank within sight of the crowds on the shore. Most were drowned. It seems the amount of despair is sometimes exponentially linked to the amount of positive expectation.

And Mark Tully also looks at a contemporary story of infertility, where regular hope is followed by regular despair, and there can often be a desire not to hope, at all, for fear of the disappointment that follows.

But it's not all doom and gloom. Mark Tully also looks at how enduring hope can be a respite, and one that can be continually reached. And the words of Martin Luther King, and the music of Frank Sinatra add another positive note in favour of Dreams, and High Hopes.

Presented by Mark Tully
Produced by Adam Fowler
An Unique production for BBC Radio 4.

Music Played

7 items
  • Image for Frank Sinatra

    Frank Sinatra High Hopes

    Track 12

    Frank Sinatra: 20 Golden Greats, EMI, LC0148 / CDP 7 98521 2

  • Image for Catherine-Ann MacPhee

    Catherine-Ann MacPhee Oran An 'Iolaire'

    Track 8.

    Cànan Nan Gàidheal, Greentrax, CRTRAX009

  • Image for Edvard Grieg

    Edvard Grieg Solveig's Song,

    Track 9

    Peer Gynt – Suites 1 & 2 , EMI Classics, LC6646 / 5 74731 2

  • Image for Thomas Tallis

    Thomas Tallis Spem in Alium

    The Sixteen Choir, Track 1.

    Tallis: Sacred Choral Works, Chandos, LC7038 / CHAN0513

  • Image for Herbert Howells

    Herbert Howells All My Hope in God is Founded

    Track 18.

    I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes, Collegium, COLCD 118

  • Image for Anne Briggs

    Anne Briggs Go Your Way

    Track 14.

    Classic Anne Briggs, Fellside, FECD 78

  • Image for Frank Sinatra

    Frank Sinatra High Hopes

    Track 12

    Frank Sinatra: 20 Golden Greats, EMI, LC0148 / CDP 7 98521 2

  • Readings

    READING 1: King, Martin Luther: A Knock at Midnight: Great Sermons of Martin Luther King Jr.
    Published by Abacus
    ISBN-10: 0349112010

    READING 2: Johnson, Samuel. Extract from ‘The Rambler’ No. 67. Nov 6th 1750

    READING 3: Sophie, Hannah: Pessimism for Beginners
    Published by Carcanet
    ISBN-10: 9781857548785

    READING 4: Adams, Blythe: The Danger of Hope (Blog), Over Hard: Eggs and infertility
    http://overhard.blogspot.com/2007/09/danger-of-hope.html

    READING 5: Thompson, Francis: Heaven and Hell, Oxford Book of Short Poems
    Published by OUP Oxford
    ISBN-10: 0192804103

    READING 6: Scrunton, Roger: The Uses of Pessimism and the Dangers of False Hope
    Published by OUP Oxford
    ISBN-10: 9781848872004

    READING 7: Dickinson, Emily: Hope 1, Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson
    Published by Random House
    ISBN-10: 0517415143

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