It’s pretty easy to be pessimistic, isn’t it?
I have to believe that there have always been pessimists, and I have to admit that there are plenty of times when I feel like one too. It’s not hard to look at the way things are and despair. It’s practically my default sometimes.
I think there are also some things that make us more pessimistic than we are naturally inclined to be.
I think watching too much of the news makes us pessimists. Why? Because the news is not just a neutral thing. It’s a product. It’s a product that is designed to make us feel a certain way (anxious, depressed, pessimistic) and then desire something (more news.) Have you ever noticed how the news is like potato chips? It never really fills you up, but you keep thinking you want more?
I think politics has a way of making us pessimists too. I don’t think this election season is making optimists out of anyone. I don’t think anyone believes that we are all going to just fall in love with Congress after election day. Politics is a lot like the news. The more we have of it, the more sick we feel. And election time comes around and we think this time it will be different!
And in this era of pessimism, I am reminded of something that was said in a different era of news and politics. She was never an official politician, though she was certainly a national leader. Perhaps there have always been just as many things to be pessimistic about. But somehow, the people who change the world resist the despair of the present.
It is an amazing thing we have, this capacity to be endlessly optimistic, if we choose to be. But the beauty of the future will not come in the ways in which we are taught to believe. A beautiful future for you and I will not come through any politician we elect. It will not come through Congress. The beauty of you future will not come through a tech company, or anything else we can buy.
All of these things we look to and believe that this will finally satisfy and fulfill us. But they won’t. The only way that your future and my future are truly optimistic is that we actually listen to the still small voice, the dream, and we go.
There are no substitutes.