Your Thoreau quote is perfect. I suspect that he has fallen on hard times in the current cultural atmosphere. I read an article in a prominent publication trashing him earlier this year. I love him.
I am wondering about your friends and fellow college students. Do you think your generation is hopeful, and if so, where do they find that hope? I am often perplexed by their obsession with social media and the shallowness of their reading and thinking. Not you, of course, but so many others who can't seem to focus or concentrate and seem to me to be off somewhere else when you talk to them. Are any of them religious, spiritual, etc.? Are they politically active? Where do they find hope?
You are absolutely right when you say that Thoreau has fallen on hard times. Many of my peers consider him and his writing a joke. But I love him too.
I have been thinking about your questions for quite some time now, ruminating on the nature of my generation's relations with hope. I of course cannot be the objective spokesperson for my entire generation. Rather, I can only speak subjectively through my observations, my experiences and conversations with friends, fellow students, and colleagues.