Pessimism or Optimism?

01 Jul

My cousin recently blogged about how she is extremely optimistic and pessimistic at the same time about world events. She specifically discussed the recent election protests in Iran and the possibility of change coming to that country. She said she feels hopeful and fearful at the same time. My cousin and I both grew up when the Iron Curtain seemed impenetrable, when the Soviet Union was the evil empire full of our enemies. And then change came to their country, almost overnight. So it will be fascinating to see what happens in Iran…

Like my cousin, I also feel tremendous pessimism and optimism about the world and its future. For example, I am unsure what to believe about our American economy and system of government. On one hand, I want very much for President Obama to succeed and to see our nation prosper economically. I want to see positive changes to our health care system. At the same time, I am quite concerned about government intervention and the massive expansion we’ve been witnessing. As one commentator put it recently, Obama wants us to believe that the recent enormous government spending and intrusion into the free markets was necessary to save our system. Perhaps the truth is that the recession was the excuse President Obama needed to transform our government/economy into a much more European-like system, where government entitlements are widespread and where the government controls much more of the free markets, making them much less free, and consequently, less efficient.

(Some would suggest that a similar situation occurred when George W. Bush used 9-11 as an excuse to invade Iraq and remove Saddam from power, something Bush really wanted to do anyway but needed an excuse to do it, even though no direct link between 9-11 and Iraq ever existed.)

Anyway, the strange thing about this mix of fear and hope is that they can somehow co-exist in us. I fear a lot of things: Will I die young like my father? Will I get diabetes, heart disease and cancer like many of my relatives? How could I ever recover if I lost one of my children? How could I go on if my sweet wife were taken from me? I don’t like to dwell on these thoughts too much since they just make me expend energy unnecessarily by pondering “what if” scenarios.

A part of me fears the world that my children will have to face with its increasing moral degeneracy; at the same time, I look forward to the future with great anticipation. There are so many great things are ahead of us; new technologies, new ideas, new works of art and entertainment. Some people see the world as getting worse and worse every day. I choose to see it as continually improving in many ways. Certainly, more and more are choosing unrighteous paths and sin is becoming increasingly acceptable. But many are also deepening their devotion to Jesus Christ and his teachings and living better lives than ever before.

So, are you pessimistic or optimistic? Which is better: a healthy pessimism that grounds you in reality and keeps you from being disillusioned or optimism that makes you see the world through rose-colored glasses, but also could be setting you up for eventual disappointment?

1 Comment

Posted by on July 1, 2009 in Politics / Economy


One response to “Pessimism or Optimism?

  1. Chris

    July 6, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    Great post Andrew. I feel very much the same about things as you do. I don’t know what to really think about recent government changes.I don’t feel that it is out of laziness that I am undecided on so many things. I just try to hear both sides of these arguments and I end up liking whichever one I am currently listening to. Pathetic I know.

    I feel I understand the fears of people on both sides of the spectrum and I don’t know who’s are right. I think in many ways they both are since there are no perfect solutions. Won’t there be negative consequences either way?

    I am in favor of exploring new solutions; of progressing and moving our society forward. But I am nervous with our current changes in govt. I am not really confident that our government (though well intentioned) can manage the responsibilities they are setting out for themselves. As long as WE are the ones in control of our system of government I am not opposed to some degree of tinkering.

    Whether I am positive or negative what’s coming is coming. I accomplish very little good by cultivating anger towards those I view as ideological enemies. I think conservative and liberal views are connected to different personalities and their ways of solving problems. I tend to want to see our ideas challenged and refined. But I am also glad that not everyone is like me. I can be much too idealistic.

    So I say be positive yet cautious. People are inspired by positivity. They will open up to you if you are positive. Negativity can never be a healthy characteristic to nurture.


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