Scratch the surface of our hope-fixated culture and you discover The Shawshank Redemption lied to us: sometimes, giving up hope sets you free. John Ptacek, a US author, writes of finding meaning through hopelessness after his wife’s terminal cancer diagnosis: “Time spent hoping for happier days is time spent turning away from life.” Derrick Jensen, an environmental campaigner, believes hope makes activism less effective since it involves placing faith in someone or something else to make things better, instead of doing what’s needed yourself: “A wonderful thing happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realise you never needed it in the first place… you become very dangerous indeed to those in power.” The Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön proposes a new fridge magnet: “Abandon hope”. It sounds like a grim joke. After all, if you don’t have hope, what’s left? I suspect she’d answer: reality. In other words, everything.