There are pretty much only three varieties of hope, the ultimate hope of faith, the enthusiastic hope of the prematurely optimistic and the realistic hope of the prepared.


A reflection from

A quiet neighborhood somewhere in Idaho

Jan 1, 2011.

I awoke today to a sunlit morning, snow almost painfully brilliant under a clear sky – the chill outside air hovering just above zero Fahrenheit. I stepped outside and took a breath of morning. The day was headed towards a balmy 9 as the sunlight’s energy slowly penetrates the still.

My overwhelming impression was one of safety and security, inside a zone of shared common sense and optimism, grounded in common preparation. I knew that in this spot there are well-prepared, realistic neighbors, who form a community-in-fact that can ultimately be counted on to do the right thing when the right thing is demanded of them.

They and I (part time in my case) live in a state that is thinly populated to be sure, but also consistently occupies the top tier of the fastest growing populations in the USA. By far it is the most stable of that group. Yes, even here, the state government is struggling under the same fiscal constraints that have hobbled 49 others. Unlike California, however, this state has taken seriously the notion that a government should live within its means. During earlier budget cycles, when the no-longer-golden state was simply carrying forward an insurmountable debt load to the next fiscal year, this state was running a surplus, putting money aside in a rainy day fund.

As the recession holds back income, real budget cutting is taking place, in households and statehouse alike, sharply reducing the public payroll. Unlike CA, these cuts are real; they actually generate a real balanced budget.

And business startups and people continue to trickle in. When the actual recovery cuts in, it will be stronger in places like this one where on a sunlit morning at a balmy 9 degrees above zero people are secure inside a zone of shared common sense and optimism, grounded in common preparation.

Unlike Lake Wobegone, not everyone here is above average, bus everyone is accountable, and therein is the difference on which realistic hope is founded.


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