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Why Hope Is Essential to Latin America’s Future

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

You don’t change the world by simply looking at it. You change it through the way you choose to live in it.

Think about that. It’s more profound than you might at first imagine, and I believe it’s very, very true. We are not puppets on a string. We are human beings—each one of us unique, inner-motivated, and able to affect the future if we put a thoughtful mind to it. That alone should give us all hope that we can make a positive difference, maybe even a really huge one.

"Esperanza" in Comuna 13

A thief may take your stuff, but he cannot take your hope. You are in charge of that. The line between having hope for the future and acting to make that future better and freer is as direct as it gets.

While in Medellín in November 2019, a colleague and I walked the streets of Comuna 13, a section of the city that barely two decades ago was among the most violent neighborhoods in the world. It was infested with killers and kidnappers associated with drug cartels. Hundreds of people were murdered every year. Everyone lived in constant fear but most never lost hope.

Today, Comuna 13 is a far more peaceful place full of merchants, artists, performers, and boisterous, smiling faces. Wall after wall is adorned with colorful street art. I took many photos, including one proclaiming “Esperanza”—which in Spanish means “Hope.” (See cover photo.) If these people can emerge from gut-wrenching terror with their spirits intact, then go on to make their neighborhood a beautiful tourist attraction, anything is possible, anywhere.

Hope is a potent stimulant. Never, ever let it slip away. No matter what.

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