Optimism v Pessimism: call it a draw…

I’m an optimist. To be truthful, I’m a card carrying, corners-upturned-party, flag-waving, bottle-completely-full-to-overflowing, careerist optimist.

I don’t believe all the negative headlines; I grind my teeth at the ‘in-my-day’ brigade of rose-tintery; I say ‘Pah!’ to life’s naysayers; I spit in the eye of the curmudgeons and contrarians…

So when I read an article last week that pandered to my world view, of course I fully believed it. It was full of cracking ner-ner-na-ner-ner statistics, too.

Fr’instance in 1800, 85 percent of the world’s population lived on less than $2 a day (taking 2017 values for the $); in 1966 that had fallen to 50 percent; in 1997 it was 29 percent and in 2017, 9 percent. You note the value of the dollar is the same.

Of course, the world population is massively bigger so in absolute numbers we still have far too many people living below any reasonable subsistence level… still.

Another. In 1948, women, on average gave birth to 5 children; today it is, averaged worldwide, 2.5. Again in absolute terms the numbers are bigger and those 2.5 will live longer because of better education and health care worldwide but a point will come this century when the replacement rate worldwide is such that the world’s dwindling population will be the cause for concern not population growth.

But then I thought about the why’s and the wherefore’s and that’s where I have a sneaking feeling that being an Optimist isn’t necessarily the be all and end all.

See, child mortality might be the lowest ever but the reason is because people want something done to stop small children shuffling off their mortal coils before their first steps. Absolute poverty drops because it’s awful to contemplate.  It’s those people who see the bad things and do something about them that have driven us forward. It’s not those looking at the world and saying ‘you know, things aren’t too bad’ that get things done.

Bill and Melissa Gates have done more to eradicate malaria than anyone else and why? Because they were upset by its impact and didn’t want to world where this was the norm. They didn’t say, ‘Hey, no malaria in the US so that’s alright then’.

Now, even as a sunny-side up personality, I try and do my bit for those who aren’t so fortunate, I am conscious that it is often those who feel pissed off at life’s unfairness who move the world forward. Pessimism has it’s place, if harnessed to improvement.

So to my friends and fellow humans out there who still read the Daily Gloom and believe it, I’m happy for you to wallow in your misery, just as long as you also do your best to ensure it’s not a self fulfilling prophesy.

As Flanders and Swann had it, we can’t all be honeysuckle – there has to be bindweed too  and those two can intertwine to mutual benefit.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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19 Responses to Optimism v Pessimism: call it a draw…

  1. Love this! You somehow managed to be optimistic about pessimism. You got skills, sir.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. willowdot21 says:

    I am with you Geoff

    All the way and love Flanders and Swan 💜

    Liked by 2 people

  3. trifflepudling says:

    Ah, memories of French A level, “Candide, ou l’Optimisme’ – another text I never understood at the time!
    I’m glad you’re an optimist – it helps pessimists like me 🙂 ! Nice read.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not altogether sure it’s the pessimists who do something about the world they don’t like. After all, a true pessimist will find fault with the sun shining. I think it’s more the optimistic folk who recognise a problem and know they can help to change the situation…….. I could be wrong of course, I often am 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. JT Twissel says:

    Hum, having read the beta version of Salisbury Square, I’m surprised you are an optimist!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ritu says:

    You certainly managed to look at pessimism with an optimistic outlook there His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. josypheen says:

    I find it quite interesting how most people believe the world is so much worse than it is. I mean. We only need a little push to get rid of world poverty! That is amazing!

    Have you ever seen this video, I think it’d be right up your street: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JiYcV_mg6A

    Liked by 2 people

  8. ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’

    ‘Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD! I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell: I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’

    “`

    Sunny-side up isn’t my thing. I suppose I’m a pessimist. But it does make me angry and I do lots of stuff about that to help people/animals/environment/etc. I can’t stand to see the world like this so I do something. I have to. Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. LucciaGray says:

    Well said! Absolutely agree. It’s a good life and if you don’t like something, do your best to improve it, don’t wallow in self pity and pessimism!

    Liked by 1 person

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