Some of our most common words come from we don’t know where, though we might make a wild guess now and then — boy, dog, and today’s word, hope. I’d say that so long as a boy’s got his dog, he and the dog have hope, but what would that mean? Maybe that they can catch something good to eat, or find their way back home, or do a number on the robber who’s got the kid tied up in the barn; in general, you hope that something good may still happen, even though your belly is grumbling, or the day is far gone, or the robber has a gun. But hey, a good dog is a match for a bad man on most days, anyhow!
A dear friend of mine told me long ago that hope wasn’t the same as optimism, and I saw right off that he was correct, and in fact, optimism is the slick-talker with the gold tooth and a bridge to sell, as far from hope as a confidence scheme is from faith. Herman Melville’s Confidence-Man on the Mississippi steamboat never talks about faith in God, but about confidence, usually confidence in y…
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