It took me a little while to figure out what I liked so much about this commercial from All State. And, truthfully, I didn't just like it, I found it peculiarly moving. I'll put it below for you to watch and then have a bit to say about it below.
What's moving, I think, is the sense of defiant hope the commercial expresses. Yes, it acknowledges, lots of bad things happen. But there are still good things. And maybe more good than bad. And maybe, just maybe, it goes on to suggest, there's way more chance of there being more good than bad if we don't let the threat of the bad deter us from living life and seeking and creating good.
All of this is made more poignant because it's spoken by a child, a child whose voice testifies both to the fragility of this life we share and also to the fact that, by speaking those words, that fragile voice becomes brave, strong, and courageous.
Hope, I believe, is like that. It is both fragile and powerful, fragile because it exists against all odds and in the face of much that seems hopeless; powerful because it creates new possibilities and in being shared, multiplies.
All of this puts me in mind of a quotation often attributed to either Martin Luther or St. Francis: "If the world were going to end tomorrow, I would plant a tree today." I've always loved that affirmation because it reminds us that what we see is not all there is, and that no matter what may come, yet God will have the last word, and it will be a good word. The promise of God to bring all things to a good end invites us to live today, even in the most difficult of circumstances, with hope.
Not optimism, note, but hope. For while optimism assumes things will soon get better, hope testifies that whether things get better or worse yet ultimately God's good will for us and all creation will prevail. And rooted in that promise, we can take action today, standing with the good, opposing evil, and doing what we can, not because we expect or need to save the world, but rather because we believe that since God will save the world we are free to throw ourselves into taking care of the little corner of the world in which we find ourselves.
Hope that is fragile, brave, and invites us to action. I think that's why I like - and am moved by - this commercial. And I hope you are, too. So go ahead, watch it again.