Wednesday, September 08, 2004

More Optimism

Historian Howard Zinn writes about the optimism of uncertainty:
"An optimist isn't necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places--and there are so many--where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory."
This last line is inspiring, I think. Isn't this lifestylism? We're creating our individual and collective future by living out our values and dreams.


Anonymous said...

Wow, that is a great quote! I've been thinking a lot about uncertainty recently--mostly because I got laid off a few months ago. Sometimes I can feel my anxiety level rise when I think about all of the things up in the air in my life right now (job, relationship, etc). Thankfully, I am positive most of the time. But occasionally fear and doubt creep in. Really all we can control is the present moment.

Jeremy said...

Glad you found it helpful. It seems like the deeper you dig into the problems of the world (ecological, political, economic), the more depressing it all I also found the quote (and article) encouraging.

Johnnie M said...

Yes, I find that last line inspiring too. Living in defiance of what is bad and being in the present.

Garth said...

To not have any uncertainty in life in my opinion would be a boring one. The pursuit of the unknown has always challenged and I believe motivated the adventurers and explorers of our planet. Perhaps that is why many of us pursue a better understanding of our purpose in life...or to fit this blog - understand our lifestyle; why we live in the way that we do. I love this quote from a guy named Paul I read earlier today:

"We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright!"

"We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love."

Without a faith in something better - we live empty lives. Without hope - why bother living? Without love - there is just hate. I choose to live in a way that is guided by all three and obviously it affects who I am and who I am becoming.