Anyone who has ever attended a Christian marriage service is probably familiar with the famous New Testament passage from the first epistle of Paul of Tarsus to the Corinthians, also known as 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.I disagree. Perhaps from a theological perspective, love is the greatest. But from a human perspective, it's hope that wins out. From the perspective of winning converts and keeping true believers—that is, the perspective of keeping an organized religion organized—hope is all you need.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Because it's hope that keeps people coming back to church or temple or other religious gathering places in the face of the denial of their desires and impulses. Hope in a like-minded community. Hope in support in times of distress. Hope in some measure of peace on earth. Hope in an afterlife. Hope in transcending all that is human, even death. Hope in the promise that we'll see our loved ones again.
It's hope that gives believers a reason to love and have faith.
Therefore, hope transcends desire, whether for real or even simply in the minds of believers. And I think that designers can somehow harness hope in their work. Perhaps that's what some people mean by the term "sustainable design." I don't know. And perhaps my argument will be viewed as cynical, though I don't intend it that way. Regardless, I think that that if hope is studied and approached by designers in the same fashion they've approached and studied desire, there's a good chance they'll design some transformative products and services.