I’ve been swamped in pessimism lately; pessimism that threatens to become cynicism. The problem is that I don’t want to be either a pessimist or a cynic, but I thought that all the evidence I was seeing or hearing about the world today suggested that pessimism was justified. Is it? Even if it is justified, would it be possible to somehow escape the clutches of pessimism?
I talked to my good friend Nick, the potter and bartender. He wisely pointed out that pessimism leads nowhere and produces nothing except despair. He helped me realize that even though intellectually I was wallowing in pessimism, I’m living as if I were an optimist – doing new things, seeking new challenges, always trying to develop my skills and educate myself.
Then, I stumbled across three things this morning.
First was Andrew Sullivan’s weekly long read in the New York magazine, “Trump’s First Year Has Been a Disaster. Here’s Why I Have Hope.” Sullivan points out that “so many . . . indicators in the world are remarkably good right now.”
In a similar vein, Kevin Drum, who blogs for Mother Jones, posted this morning: “I’m Just a Big Ol’ Optimist About the Future of America Under Donald Trump.” Kevin starts
I’ve been meaning to weigh in on the latest raft of pieces about the decline of American democracy, the decline of Western liberalism, the decline of globalism, and the decline of everything else in the era of Trump. In a nutshell, I’m far more optimistic than most of the people writing about this. Unfortunately, I haven’t really thought the whole thing through rigorously enough to make a little essay out of it.
Actually, you might consider that good news. However, I do want to lay down a few markers. Here they are:
Read both these articles for welcome counterbalance to the doom and gloom in much of today’s news. (Note that neither article is by a Trump or Republican loyalist.)
My other stumble this morning was on YouTube where I stumbled on The Artist Series, videos produced by The Art of Photography. They are each about fifteen minutes long and are interviews with outstanding photographers. I watched the one with Keith Carter. Carter talks about the death of his wife at the end of an illness. Her last words after looking out the window of their home from her death-bed were “What a Beautiful World This Is.”
After watching that video, how can one possibly remain a pessimist, much less a cynic?