Misery Loves Company but Hope Loves it More!
A show played on the television where a character expressed some distressing news. The actor who portrayed this character did so adequately until huge tears fell from his eyes and rolled down his cheeks due to the prospect of what he faced in the show, overwhelming his character. Adequate no longer, fantastical described his emotional portrayal.
Immediately, my eyes began to water empathetically knowing what he attempted to portray, grief. I had similar circumstances in my life. This actor's tears brought forth in me lifting him to one of the greatest actors ever in my estimation.
When art evokes emotional responses in the beholder, the creators of those pieces of art have achieved a level of their purpose in conceiving the items--be it of whatever medium.
Happily Ever After...
One of my greatest desires is for happy endings based on justice and goodness. I watched 10 seasons of Smallville recently with the only point of getting through the episodes was waiting to see Clark Kent put on the symbol of hope, his costume, and fly away as Superman. Each episode brought with it heartaches and happiness, but the one all-powerful knowledge was that one day Clark would overcome all things to be Ka El, the son of Jor El and the greatest hero of Earth.
I felt the pain of the actor crying tears. I felt the hope the actors expressed in their knowledge of Clark finally becoming the hero he was meant to become. In fact, I feel the pain and hope so often when the portrayal on a screen occurs or the description in a book warrants it, I wonder if the fictional pain is what I feel, or is my own pain or hope reflected? I also noticed that pain is reflected in media so much more now.
How often do we hear the best drama awards announced? Is that the only emotion that we relate to on the screen? Has ever there been a best joyful award, or best joyful performance announced in any of the great thespian organizations dispensing awards for portrayal or film making, TV making, or written word organizations for recognition? Is the world in so much pain that it can only see what reflects back some form of suffering? Is misery the prevailing societal emotion in life now?
Joy has now been co-opted by elements in society to mean something other than Joy.
From 1962 to 1986, the Grammy Awards recognized with a category the most inspirational performances. The most inspirational movie that I have seen is the movie Forest Gump, fiction that showed how the Muses of Circumstance benighted the character of Tom Hanks with a special power to overcome one trial after another due to what appeared to be luck or divine providence because of his love for Jenny. She was not perfect, he was limited in his abilities, and it was all mired in emotional toxic mess. Forrest wanted, in the end, to be normal receiving the second best thing in his progeny.
If any film or book should have received an award for most inspirational, Forest Gump should have been one of those because it inspired so many people with goodness. The scene below depicts one of the emotional moments in the movie.
Joy is not an emotional "Finally!"
Over thirty years ago, being an inspiration was no longer something for which society awarded performers. What happened to inspiring others to be better than we are now to something wonderfully righteous? What happened to capturing joy in life by helping others reach their potential?
Joy has now been co-opted by elements in society to mean something other than Joy. Joy is now a celebration of fringe elements in society finally getting recognized by the mainstream in some manner.
While it does feel good to finally have recognition for a long-awaited inclusionary event, such things are not joy. It is a moment of happiness in a sea of confusion if Joy was not present prior to that moment. Joy is not happiness, though it can bring happiness. Happiness is not joy, though Joy can contribute to a person's happiness. Joy is an inner peace based on knowing who we are, where we are going, and from whence we came.
Joy does not mean that bad things do not happy. It means peace despite those bad things happening.
Light of Hope
What does it mean when the tortured souls of the world are portrayed as the expectation and the joyful souls are portrayed as clueless and out of touch with reality? It means that years ago people stopped believing in happily ever after and lost touch with faith. This new society is the result of a loss of hope in the idea of true joy, which is a reality if people look in the right places for it and understand what it is when they find it.
It rests upon the current generation to recognize that humanity is meant to have joy from the inside out by not being beholden to material things that started to permeate society from the 1960s and overrun it in the 1980s. Joy is not meant to keep us in abject poverty. Joy is to exist in wealth or poverty with the same peace and contentment no matter how many zeros grace our bank accounts. Joy is to have peace and understanding no matter if the world is in a pandemic or post-apocalyptic reality. Joy does not mean that bad things do not happen. It means peace despite those bad things happening.
Believe that life is worth living with hope that things will always serve the purpose of improvement. Believe that the purpose of life is improvement and progression from one point of existence to the next as the challenges of existence come each day.
Faith and hope are the key factors to overcoming despair. Knowing that there is purpose in life even if we do not know the clear picture of that purpose is the first step in finding joy. Clues all around us show the purpose of existence if we willingly open our eyes to understanding.
As of late, it seems that mentioning the name of Jesus Christ in any fashion save a swear word causes many people to cast aside what follows. Having Faith that the concepts taught about Jesus can bring hope to a world in misery is the first step to happiness. What literally is the promise that Christianity in its simplicity offers to humankind?
It offers hope in a glorious reward for all those treated unfairly. It offers peace in the middle of trials because all will be recompensed. It offers hope because mortal life is not the end of existence. That very hope helps people to manage the daily circumstances, which would keep people in despair without. Hope is the driving force of the faith of all people to action.
That is why Faith is the first principle of heaven. Without it, nothing else matters.
Many people call it repentance. If we are willing to change our way of thinking about things and accept the truths we currently know, we can change our lives to live up to the expectations that we have inherently received in our souls. There is no room for anger and malice in our lives when we have pure unadulterated joy. We change our lives so that those things are moved away from our feelings and thoughts and it cleanses our minds to strengthen our faith in the hope of true joy. Holding on to past hurt is prison. With professional help and focused emotional release, those hurts can be healed. If ever they flare up again, the process is the same to release, forgive, and change with a hope in the power of a better life by so doing.
Faith to repent of imperfection is the key. Change is not about some deeply rooted horrible sin that a person has committed. Change or repentance is about the small things that keep us from being the best versions of ourselves. With the hope that we have in a better possible life, we work daily to improve ourselves with the help of our mentors.
For many, that mentor is Jesus Christ. He teaches that because He has no sins of His own, He paid the penalty for all of the sins of humankind so that we can change for the better. It empowers people to make an effort to be better knowing that the price for our imperfections is covered so we can learn from the mistakes and move on to grow toward a better existence without fear of retribution by the universe. The demands of justice are satisfied.
The psychological value of this cannot be ignored. Carl Rogers, a recognized supporter of Client-Centered Therapy, taught that a person who received unconditional positive regard from his or her therapist would have a better chance at recovery than those who do not. In this sense, the unconditional regard comes from God Who loves each person without regard to his or her mistakes or imperfections and is willing to forgive when a person is prepared to change.
Hope Loves Company
Misery loves company because all we have to do to be miserable is nothing. Nothing changes when we do not act. Nothing good happens when we sit idly by allowing life to endure without us making an effort to improve it. We are good if we choose to be good. It may truly be easier for some of us to excel at certain things than others, but we are not required to be like another person in strength. We must act for good, however in however small or grand a way in our power. One of my favorite teachings is found in this quote from Scripture:
Now, as I said concerning faith—that it was not a perfect knowledge—even so it is with my words. Ye cannot know of their surety at first, unto perfection, any more than faith is a perfect knowledge.
But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words. 
If you can do nothing but have a desire for improvement, let it work within your soul until you believe in a way for that desire to become a tool of change. God meets us where we are, in misery, and raises us up as we are willing to take the next step.
Hope loves company much more than misery does. Hope is willing to sacrifice being different to encourage us to rise up and walk into the unfamiliarity of the light so that it is easier for us to recognize and identify with it in the arts. Have you ever had so much joy that you thought your heart would burst? Hope is what brings that feeling. The Scriptures teach us that there will exist misery in the world, but in the end, peace will reign for those who will strive to live lives of goodness. Let us hold on to that hope while COVID-19 surrounds us in darkness. We do what we know will help us stay safe and exercise faith that many of us, if not all of us, will live to enjoy the other end of this trial of life.
Alma 32:27-28 
© 2020 Rodric Anthony Johnson