More often than not, probably, hope is a distrusted sentiment, a devious pretender that only ever offers more than it can deliver. By this standard, it doesn’t promise much. As Jonny Steinberg wrote on this page in early December 2017: "I suspect that we are entering a time in which people’s views are becoming wildly unstable, with deep cynicism and blind hope entwined." Blind hope is indeed cynicism’s duplicitous confederate. But hope is not always an empty cup that optimists anticipate the future must naturally fill. Where it is a demonstrable possibility, hope can be a realisable outcome rather than merely a wished-for one. And it is this kind of optimism — a stimulus to effort — that undergirds the latest report, "Life in South Africa: Reasons for Hope", produced by my colleagues at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR). Some find it hard to credit, and seem almost incredulous that anybody could be so daft as to suggest that SA’s post-1994 trajectory could be anything but a fall...

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