Dad’s Diary

There are good reasons for hope in 2014

It's 2014, and once again we are aghast to find ourselves living in the future. Adults may greet the New Year with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation, but for children the future always seems bright and sparkly.

On New Year's Eve, I awoke the children, as requested, at a quarter to midnight to join in ringing in the New Year. They rapidly went from bleary-eyed to delighted as the pictures of Big Ben emerged on television and 2014 became imminent.

I explained to my space-obsessed son that the countdown was just like a rocket launch: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ñ and then ñ hooray – itís a whole new year! And so it was that a few minutes later, when the countdown ended and Big Ben bonged in 2014, one little voice cried out ìblast off!î just as all around him wished each other a happy New Year.

Then we all wrapped up and scurried outside into the chill off the very first of January 2014 for a remarkably good fireworks display. In all directions, flares and rockets flew upwards to the amazement of the children, who had never before seen such a thing, exclaiming ìThat one is like a shooting star!î The general merry disregard for the laws about fireworks somehow seemed a tonic in our age of ever-increasing regulations.


The older people get, the more likely they are to know that new years do not only bring excitement and opportunity but can also sadly bring their opposites. Indeed, New Year's Day itself was not over before people were killed on the roads.

The good-humoured elderly are the most admirable people of all to spend this time of year with. They are masters of the art of hope. They may have seen many friends pass on, and may have experienced much sadness, yet they approach each new year with a smile.


Naive optimism is a completely different state of mind to true hope. Optimism is merely the expectation of those who have never been disappointed. The power of hope is that it arises in situations where many might be tempted to hopeís opposite, despair. Hope means that people can look forwards with stoicism, even if in great adversity.

Interestingly, a feature of hope is planning and taking some steps towards those goals, at least according to psychologist, C.R. Snyder who says ìhope is cultivated when we have a goal in mind, determination that a goal can be reached, and a plan on how to reach those goalsî.

New Year therefore not only invites us to look forward with hope, but the tradition of New Year's resolutions also provides us with a mechanism to move towards the fulfilment of our hopes. It is one thing to hope for better health in 2014, but your hope is all the better-founded and more likely to be realised if you take real and certain steps towards the goal you hope for.

Our New Year is perfectly situated in the calendar: just as we begin our annual exercise in hope, the days are already growing imperceptibly longer and brighter. After years of economic crisis that saw soaring unemployment and emigration, new jobs are now being created across Ireland at a rate of 1,000 a week, and so there is good reason to hope that 2014 will indeed be a happy new year for many families across Ireland.