Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Weary but Committed Optimist

I am an optimist, not by nature (by nature I'm a cynic) and not by nurture; by nurture (the way I was reared) I am at least a 4th generation worrier. But by decision and determination and practice, I am an optimist, even when it's difficult to be (which of course is when optimism is needed the most!).

Optimism by choice can be exhausting.
When people PASSIONATELY will defend easy access to military grade weapons no matter how many innocent lives are lost to them, it's hard to remain optimistic.
I really am not asking you to turn in your derringer, or if you live in the piney woods of East Wherever, I am not asking you to stop hunting; we are just talking about reasonable restrictions on some types of weapons. Our own past and other countries have shown that such sensible actions will reduce gun violence.

When a group finally achieves civil rights and some measure of social equality and the immediate reaction is legislation that says all of that is void as long as someone says their religion demands discrimination, it's hard to remain optimistic.

When individuals make terrible choices, and their entire religion or culture or ethnicity is blamed (even by people seeking high office)...when that sort of unmasked bigotry seems to flourish, it's hard to remain optimistic.

When haters and lunatics gain power because ridiculously high numbers of people don't vote, it's hard to remain optimistic (and when those who do get power make it even harder for those who wish to vote to do so, it's hard to remain optimistic!).

When hate and fear, homophobia and transphobia, racism and xenophobia, misogyny and violence, hate speech and demagoguery seem to have all become mainstream, it's hard to remain optimistic.

BUT I WILL. I must. I have given too much of myself, offered too many sacrifices on the altar of  the gods of optimism to give up now.

What if my efforts to maintain and share optimism utterly fail, what if there is evidence to show me that it will fail? I will remain optimistic anyway!

What if some days my optimism feels false and naive? I will cling to it all the more stubbornly!

What if some days, and today could be such a day, optimism feels like a heavy load almost too much carry? Then I will drag it behind me, however slowly, but I will not let it go.

Some days, it's hard to remain optimistic. So what? It's too precious a gift to let go. That we have been given the power to choose optimism means we have also been given the responsibility to to do so. And when enough of us do so, and we remain optimistic long enough, things do change for the better. We've seen it; we've lived it.

May the victories of optimism in our memories inspire us to embrace it again and again, day after day, and never let the tides of fear, hatred, and division wash away our holy optimism. May optimism energize us to do what we can, to say what we must, to stand tall until we are knocked down, and even then to dare to believe that more possibilities exist for us.

I am a weary optimist, but an optimist nevertheless. Just owning that truth fans the flames of peace and joy within me. I remain a preacher of the Gospel of Optimism. Now, it's time to put that optimism work; please join me in doing just that. (dw)

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