Phatic Hope

Jason Wallis


Jason Wallis and family.

Jason is a photographer, filmmaker, husband and father of two children. He came up on my radar first as a fellow creator of commercial images, but he further impressed me after I saw his photographs done with an organization working for clean water in India called Never Thirst. He traveled with them to work on the creation of clean water wells, and also made photographs of the locals.

Jason tells me, “I would consider myself a very hopeful person!”. He explains, “Ultimately my Hope comes from my faith in Christ as a Christian. But I find our culture makes a lot of claims to that and this sometimes becomes more of a political stance than a spiritual one. As a Christian, the Bible is my moral compass….so to live according to that and to seek wisdom, truth and Hope is my desire.” I think to myself, “this is a thoughtful young man.”

It turns out that Jason is a good person to discuss the relationship between Hope and Faith. He says, “I have heard before that Faith is the eye(s) to see what can’t be seen.” I feel that his Hope is firmly rooted in his Faith, and he has given this a good deal of thought. We talk about active versus passive Hope, and he teaches me a new phrase; Phatic communication. He began to feel in school that a question like “How are you?” and the usual “I’m fine, how are you” was just a greeting (or phatic) and not really a question. This fuels my desire to answer the question about active or passive Love and, of course, Hope.

Phatic: Used for general purposes of social interaction, rather than to convey information or ask questions.

We talk more about the phatic nature of this kind of communication (Jason was a student of communications), and how the statement “I hope tomorrow the sunshines” could be be phatic, unless you were in New Orleans during Katrina and hoping for the rain to stop. He says, “In this situation my active Hope would be in prayer”. He suggests that he does not have control over rain, only God does. Jason goes on to suggest that he believes his hopeful prayer is what leads him to action, like his work in India and later Kenya. I believe his faith in Hope led him to his action!

I guess this makes Jason’s Hope more emphatic than phatic!

Emphatic: Showing or giving emphasis; expressing something forcibly and clearly.







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