Hope certainly counts for more than "following the crowd," but it is also not anything less than "following the crowd" either. At a minimum, it requires listening to others. It is walking with others because hope is never a solitary endeavor. Hope draws a crowd. We need others when we need hope, like faith needs possibility.
Buried beneath the loneliness and despair of the people of God in the book of Isaiah is a silent hope. It is born out of the possibility for something new, which is born out of the presence of God, and it finds us wherever we are. It is unearthed because of the whispers of grace, which surrounds the people of God and which gathers them together.
As we read in Isaiah 30:21, "When you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk on it'." So often, when we turn to the right and turn to the left, we not only hear the whispers of grace, but we also see a friend who brings us hope, someone who will walk with us in the way of hope.
We turn to our right, and we turn to our left, discovering that our loneliness is no match for the words of a friend. We discover that our despair is limited by the assistance of a neighbor. Hope has a way of drawing a crowd, as the support around us gathers. It is how grief gives way to laughter, as a family gathers with one another for a meal after a funeral, and they begin to tell stories of thanksgiving. It is how fear melts away into courage, as neighbors share their similar stories about fighting illness or recovering from disappointment. It is how hope is unearthed, when others start to dig with us, and we discover that our despair is not as deep as we feared.
When we are alone, hope feels distant, but if we look to our right and to our left, finding a friend or a neighbor, we hear the whispers of grace, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." One way that we can foster hope is by looking to our right and to our left, as Barbara Brown Taylor describes in An Altar in the World by "capitalizing the 'You' as well as the 'I'." Hope is cultivated when we capitalize the 'You' as well as the 'I'."
Even the strongest 'I' is no match for a capital 'You.' When we capitalize the 'You,' it draws a crowd. We never subtract when we capitalize the 'You'; we only add because capitalizing a 'You' becomes an 'Us,' which is where we find hope.
As we go about our lives, we do well not to always look straightforward, but rather, to turn to our right and to our left, for we might see the hope we need in a friend or a neighbor.