OPTIMISM AND PESSIMISM
I have read with interest the comments circulating on this site and elsewhere on the internet. These comments and articles seem to be in one of two camps, with a sprinkling with a foot on each side. So, I decided to define the terms;
Optimism; a doctrine that this world is the best possible world; 2. An inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome.
Pessimism; An inclination to emphasize adverse aspects, conditions, and possibilities or to expect the worst possible outcome. 2. The doctrine that reality is essentially evil and that evil overbalances happiness in life.
This is from Webster’s ninth new college dictionary, 1989 which overall I think has better word usage definitions than any of the new stuff I have seen.
Adding to that, the observation of Robert Heinlein that says; that optimists have more fun but pessimist are more often right.
I fall into the group that is pessimistic. I guess life experiences and observations lead me to that position. In my lifetime, I have seen very little reason to be optimistic, especially on a macro scale. On an individual level, well, a very few times, yes.
But, what I tend to force attention to is on a macro scale, national, international, and even local happenings. In these arenas I see not much to be optimistic about. But, that is just me talking. Whatever anticipation that I experience called hope and what might turn out from it is often dashed into pieces in a reality check.
I have written often about ‘working within the system’ and what a waste of time I view that activity. My reasons are voluminous and often stated unequivocally. The principal reason for that statement is that we are not, at any level, dealing with people that either respect us or anything remotely identified as adherence to law and decency. At the national level, we are opposed by people that change the laws and definition of decency on a whim. If the populace gets to close to real change from the business as usual, they change how or under what circumstances they will even listen to us, much less institute changes that may be to their disadvantage. What changes am I referring to? The elite attitude of entitlement; the elite propensity to greed and accumulation of wealth; the elite’s constant demand for more power over us. Whatever respect they have for the populations of countries can be encapsulated in what we can do for them, not what they can do for us. I suppose that I misuse the term respect in this case. In actuality it is simply manipulation of us for their ends.
All of the above statements do not preclude my view that we shouldn’t keep trying, not so much as to affect any real outcomes that we desire, but from the notion that we should continually press for what we believe is right. For, if we do not do that, then we are complicit in the very actions that we despise. If this government does what I think it is going to do, then the pressing for what we believe is right is going to get really expensive. In which case, we all have to decide where we draw the line in the sand.
Do I have no hope at all? It depends on what we are referring to. If I would point out that hoping that we can change the mind of those in power, to do what is right, I have none. If I have hope that something good can come of the collapse of this empire, and hopefully, civilization as a whole, yes I do.
The point that I wish to press home is that those with the power, the elite, do not and never have had concern about whatever we want. Only if it serves their agenda do they deign to listen to us. We get a few chicken bones thrown our way and they proclaim their concern for us. An actual voice in how we are governed has long since passed, and I don’t mean in just the last 8 years. From our very beginning and inception, there has been a constant erosion of the principles of a popular government. We aren’t alone in this. Just take a look at what our government does (and other governments also) when a popular movement in a country is contrary to their agenda and goals.
I am going to state again; they could give a rat’s ass about our concerns and desires. And, by us, I am referring to the majority of citizens in any country that have no power, low economic status and with a completely different values system from the elites.
I hope this explains adequately why I look at myself as a pessimist.
Now, let’s examine optimism.
This will take on a multitude of forms, same as pessimism. I presume you know of someone who is a pacifist, and argues strongly for their position. This is, in my view, an optimists position, that the inherent good in each of us can be brought out by absolute non violence. In reading history, I have to come to the conclusion, it doesn’t work. And be careful in using the Gandhi example. Do a bit more research on that period in
The major problem is that in a civilized society such as ours, violence is the sole realm of the top of the pyramid. Any violence from the bottom up we are educated (indoctrinated) to believe either unnecessary or has an evilness attached to it. But from the top, violence is often meted out with no repercussion. Take the police use of tasars these days. Way too much of the time is savage, often with lethal results, and most times, unnecessary. If you fight back, the penalties are severe. I really do expect to see much more of this kind of behavior on the part of law enforcement. In its extreme form, it is called a police state.
Another of the signs of optimism is contained in the ‘can do’ attitude of our society. There is no problem that can’t be fixed and other ramifications of this position. It refuses to acknowledge that there are problems that are not fixable, but I say it must be taken out of the equation entirely. For instance, climate change. There are those that insist we can change what is happening, and some say that what is going on with our climate change is a deliberate manipulation by the PTB. From the standpoint that we have man made climate change, I fear it is a problem that is not fixable. If it is a deliberate manipulation of conditions by advanced technology, the only thing that will stop it is a complete dissolution of civilization and technology. And maybe it will come to that, and, of course it will cause a whole bunch of new problems.
I guess overall, I would have a tough time finding reasons to be optimistic about much of anything going on in the macro world. On a personal basis, I have a limited amount of optimism about how we are preparing for what I see coming at us. Time should certainly sort it all out, it is whether I will be around to see the results.