Editorial: Forsaking demonization, embracing the power of optimism
We awoke a couple of days ago to news in The Guardian that scientists think they may have detected signs of a looming collapse of the Gulf Stream, the Atlantic Ocean current that is one of the strongest on earth and one with monumental influence over our climate. It's collapse, whether in the next decade or two or sometime in the next few centuries, would be catastrophic.
Not a cheerful way to climb out of bed. (And we hadn't even checked social media or the cable news yet for the day's unrelenting drumbeat of wildfires, pandemic, insurrection, racism, conspiracy and heartless villainy.)
The atmosphere around us these days seems awash in negativity, demonization and victimization -- on all sides of the political spectrum. When it comes to cynicism, there are few innocents.
But get out of our beds we must.
And we urge the same for you.
As 19th century psychologist and philosopher William James observed, "Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power."
Cynics dwell in problems, anger and hopelessness. Optimists dwell in solutions, collaboration and hope.
In doing so, cynics run in place. Every morning looks as bleak as the morning before.
Optimists get things done. They not only enjoy a better sense of well-being; they create a better world.
It is the way of the world that every day breaks with big problems and with great risk as well as high promise. But these are not addressed by living in them.
We embrace the day and embrace too the day's challenges and opportunities.
All of them can be tackled. All can be conquered.
It begins by forsaking the day's despair. It begins by believing.
"Human spirit is the ability to face the uncertainty of the future with curiosity and optimism," said author and blogger Bernard Beckett. "It is the belief that problems can be solved, differences resolved. It is a type of confidence. And it is fragile. It can be blackened by fear and superstition."
Many of us tend to blame others for our problems. Political parties and ideologists tend to blame the opposition. These days, we name-call and demonize.
But these grievance reflexes are obstacles, not solutions.
Optimism originates from within ourselves. And problems are solved with confidence and collaboration.
Hearkening back to the Gulf Stream threat, it won't be addressed by denying it, complaining about it or hiding from it.
As scary as it is, we have to believe we can do something about it. And we can.
That's what optimism is.
Let's stop flogging each other and start working with each other.