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Why Hope Is Essential to Latin America’s Future

Date: Monday, January 27, 2020 7:12 AM EDT

Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito, wrote the Roman poet Virgil in “The Aeneid” in the first century BC. It’s commonly translated from Latin as “Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.”

In his Memoirs, Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises explained why and when he adopted those words as a personal battle cry:

How one carries on in the face of unavoidable catastrophe is a matter of temperament. In high school, as was custom, I had chosen a verse by Virgil to be my motto: Tu ne cede malis sed contra audentior ito…I recalled these words during the darkest hours of the war. Again and again I had met with situations from which rational deliberation found no means of escape; but then the unexpected intervened, and with it came salvation.

The darkest hours of World War I were exceedingly dark indeed, yet the great economist always found hope. Because of it, he never quit. It proved to be a monumental blessing to humanity that he didn’t give up, because his best work was yet to come.

Hope and Pressing On

This is what truly good and admirable people do. They don’t surrender to evil. They don’t give in. It doesn’t matter to them how dark it gets. They press on. Darkness often is the crucible in which their character is tested and strengthened. In the struggle, they shine a light where little or none shone before; as a frequent result, the future turned out better than all but a few expected.

It’s not the odds that decide the mental attitude or the physical effort of the truly good and admirable; it’s the principle of the thing—in other words, what’s ultimately right. By their example, they give others reason to persevere as well.

All over the world, people who love liberty naturally ask the same questions that kindred spirits throughout time have asked: “Will the future be bright or dark? Will we live free or in thrall to the state?” Even as tyrants steamrolled across continents, Mises refused to throw in the towel.

Hope. It’s not something you can touch, smell, or see, but it’s powerful stuff, a compelling motivator. It’s a feeling—a premonition, perhaps. It’s a sense that something desirable and worthwhile can be achieved, acquired, or realized even if obstacles appear insurmountable. To have hope is to possess a measure of confidence or optimism beyond what present circumstances seem to justify.

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