I, Optimist

I am a huge optimist. (Also: idealist, romantic, humanitarian and — according to some — “nice”) You would be hard pressed to find an atheist who has more faith then me. Not faith in a deity, faith in humanity. Yes, really, humanity as a whole. I believe love conquers all. I believe we could and, if we manage to avoid any huge meteors or other natural mass extinction events, I believe some day we will all live together in peace and relative harmony. I believe darkness is nothing more than an opportunity to shine. I believe most people, when push comes to shove, will step up and shine when it’s most needed.

I can almost hear the eye-rolls right now.

“Aura, have you looked around lately?”

Yup, I have. I took a good hard look. There’s nothing happening we as a race of tool using mammals can’t handle. There will sadly be a lot of needless loss of individuals. And I will mourn those losses. But as a whole? We got this. There’s always been people who needed to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into progress. It has never stopped us before.

Oh, there’s been periods where we’ve taken some steps backwards. But we’ve always gotten back on top. Just look at where we got today. Seriously, look. Torture is one of my favorite examples. Yes, we still torture human beings. It’s wrong, I’m against it and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But look what shocks us today. Blasting the Barney and Friends theme song non stop and water boarding. Let me stress again that I am in no way downplaying the horrors human beings had to live through. But lets compare these horrors to the horrors we inflicted on people in the 14th century. I do see a trend towards being better. It’s painfully slow, but it’s there.

Here’s the thing, I can be optimistic (and I am sure if some people got a look inside my head at just how optimistic I really am, they would start doubting my sanity) without thinking we need every person to be on board. Or even a majority. Even if it’s just a handful of people, we’ll get there.

As such, it is pretty easy for me to just write certain individuals off as stuck and not worth the energy. They will either join in later, or find themselves on the wrong side of history. Either way, I consider a lot of people irrelevant. (See why I put “nice” in quotations?) I just don’t bother with them.

I don’t fear living in a ‘echo bubble’ or whatever the correct buzzword is these days. If you demonstrate you are one of those people who are not on board with making the world better, then I hope for you you find some comfort in that reality of yours. It’s not my reality and you have little to no influence on my reality. I just don’t want to spend the energy arguing the same old points and never getting anywhere. Either these people will have some kind of epiphany, or they will die being wrong.

And of course I think they are wrong and I am right. If I didn’t think my opinions were right, I wouldn’t hold them. And yes, I can change my mind when I get information I didn’t have before — that’s the point, if I get additional information then I no longer believe my opinions are right and I don’t keep those opinions.

Here’s the strange part. I am an optimist, I identify as optimist, I can do personality tests and they will agree I am optimistic…And I can easily write people off. But I know people who would say they are not optimistic, who can take those tests and the test agrees they are not optimistic, and those people refuse to give up on any one person. They keep going at it. They keep engaging. They keep being convinced, despite of all the evidence to the contrary, that the people they encounter in their circles will be able to see the light. That they can be taught. That they can change those stuck minds and recruit them to be a force of change for the betterment of the world. They just flat out refuse to write any one individual off.

I have to say, I admire these friends. I am in awe of their will power and endurance. Naturally, they feel they are right not giving up on people. If they didn’t feel their opinions were correct, they wouldn’t keep those opinions, right? So they really feel that they can change the stuck in their way ignorants and bigots.

I have to wonder, how? How can you feel each single individual can be won over to the side of social progress, and still be not an optimist? Because to me that shows an optimism that even I, optimist, can’t muster.