Hoping for Others

As Kierkegaard sees it, hope in the possibility of the good is inherently related to love, so that it is impossible to hope for oneself without also hoping for others:

No one can hope unless he is also loving; he cannot hope for himself without also being loving, because the good has an infinite connectedness; but if he is loving, he also hopes for others. In the same degree to which he hopes for others, he hopes for himself, because in the very same degree to which he hopes for others, he is one who loves. And in the very same degree to which he hopes for others, he hopes for himself, because this is the infinitely accurate, the eternal like for like that is in everything eternal. (WL 255)

Thus the task of hope from an eternal point of view is not merely to hope all things but lovingly to hope all things, which means that we hope for others as well as ourselves, or more accurately, we hope for ourselves only to the degree that we hope for others. Love is 'the middle term' between hope for oneself and hope for others, for 'without love, no hope for oneself; with love, hope for all others' (260). Whereas the person in despair assumes the impossibility of the good and hopes nothing at all for others, the loving person hopes all things for others and does not give up on them as being hopelessly lost, since from the standpoint of the eternal there is always the possibility of good for them. But loving and hoping for others is often sorely put to the test by a host of worldly passions and mentalities such as sagacity, anger, bitterness, envy, malice, small-mindedness, and worldly conceit that threaten to weigh us down and tempt us to expect the downfall and perdition of others (257-8). Yet, even if we can do nothing at all for others, we can still lovingly hope for them, for 'love alone hopes all things' (259).

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