Is it a Moral Obligation to be an Optimist?
I scanned the most recent Chronicle of Higher Education and saw this question in bold type. I didn’t read the article but was somehow validated by the title. It seems impossible to have a conversation with anyone that doesn’t take an inevitable turn for the negative. There’s research about how our brains work that suggests we have a natural tendency to look on the dark side, consider the worst – a biological adaptation that kept us safe from Sabre tooth tigers and other predators but less helpful when the most ubiquitous predators are politicians and bankers. Oops sounds a bit negative here….
Facing some unpleasant realities about the state of the planet if not our home town, this adaptation simply prepares us to sit and watch- tsk tsking and nodding our heads as we watch things falling apart. We have a window of opportunity to be more proactive and push against the negative changes that are going on around us, but not everyone sees any light, let alone a window. Is it our responsibility if we do see light to do something about it? Spread the word of hope and optimism? I think so. And is it a moral obligation to try and be an optimist if you know that pessimism means more of the same – devolution? I think so. What do you think?