Optimism is not a philosophical belief, it is a choice to invest in the world. It is an understanding that things can be bad, and that things might get worse, but that progress is possible with hard work. It is a recognition that giving up is a choice, and that the choice to surrender to the status quo is easier for those with privilege – those for whom the status quo is survivable, bearable, and even preferable.
Cynicism is a fear of disappointment. A fear of appearing naive or impotent when hard work doesn’t result in a clearly defined “win”. It is a choice to ignore, if not exploit, what is wrong with the world. It is a choice to believe in an idealized past that is lost to progress and the valorization of destruction.
If I am cynical, I abandon my friends who don’t share my privilege. I permit myself to contribute to the world’s denigration while I stand on the shoulders of the people who were willing to do the work. I surrender to being a leech on society along with any possibility of personal greatness.
But if I am optimistic, not only am I motivated to make the world a better place, it becomes my responsibility to contribute whatever I can do that end. Through small things, like an encouraging smile to a stranger. And through bigger things, like volunteering in the community. If I am optimistic, every interaction is an opportunity to make the world a better place and my potential for greatness becomes limitless.
Posted in: Progress