I have followed this particular narrative format before. Be officially forewarned. I am doing it again.
“What particular narrative format are you talking about?”
You’ll see. And then you’ll go, “Oh, that particular narrative format.” Not that I am format-ically limited. I am reprising it because it accommodates my thinking on this matter. (I am, however, limited in my thinking. But you probably already knew that.)
Okay. After a sputtering beginning. (As I am limited in my “beginnings.”)
A gratuitous shot at optimists, before confronting the momentous business at hand:
In a book I am reading, Thomas Jefferson, a World-Class Early American optimist, predicted, at its inception, that the French Revolution would be entirely lacking in bloodshed.
Good call, “Tommy J.” You just nailed it.
Hardly atypically for members of the “Sunny Side” Club, unwilling to admit failure, Jefferson blamed the unforeseen – by him – head-rolling on Marie Antoinette’s influence on her monarchical husband, implying that, barring her meddling interference, Jefferson’s “bloodless revolution” prediction would have been totally on the money.
Classy move, Mr. “Unalienable Rights.” “Blaimez la femme!”
At first glance, the optimists’ “Batting Average” of predictions appears to be cap-tippingly impressive. But remember this:
You can always be right if you ignore when you’re wrong.
Okay. Where was I going today? Oh yeah.
Optimists and pessimists. (Note: For an offsetting Revolutionary Era “Textbook Pessimist”, See: John Adams. Boy, we heever a pain in the ass. The book I am reading is about both of them. More on that possibly in the future. Note to Myself: “Remember!”)
Okay, back to work.
When optimists habitually predict positive outcomes, it turns out, upon further study – and I mean, my own – they are not, in fact, assuring that every event will have a celebratory result.
What they mean is… a couple of things.
First – I don’t know if it’s first; I just thought of it first –
Optimists believe that an infusing faith in positive outcomes increases the eventual likelihood of positive outcomes. It’s the opposite concept to “Seeing is believing”, the reversemaxim being,
“Believing is seeing.”
“They don’t call them ‘The Rockies’ for nothing. They are made, through and through, of impenetrable rock.”
There is now a train, going through the Rockies – due to the invention of dynamite, and intrepid immigrant labor, willing to set the fuses, and run – but it doesn’t matter why; they did it. (You see how pessimists openly admit when we’re wrong? You can learn from us, optimists. Marie Antoinette? Really? How about “The Reasonable Populace” was crazy?)
More significantly, in this regard, when optimists seem to assure positive outcomes, what they are really saying it that, whatever the obstacles to success, they have the appropriate grit and developing know-how to ultimately make things work out. They are not saying, “No problem.” They’re saying, “Whatever the difficulty, we are confident we can handle it.”
Optimists know one thing with an unwavering certainty:
The possibility of succeeding requires trying.
That’s actually all they know. Though it appears to be demonstrably enough. Rarely, if ever, does any difficulty “Self-solve” entirely on its own.
“Look! The lid of that ‘impossible to open’ pickle jar just blew off! I can’t believe it! It opened all by itself!”
You do not see that happening. When confronting challenging situations, action is generally required. Or, if you’re from the gloomier side of the spectrum – and have reasonably decided it’s hopeless – inaction. Optimists say, “Hand over that jar.” Pessimists, trying to make the best of things, say, “What have we got besides pickles?”
Pessimists confuse optimists’ action with “guaranteed certainty.” (That’s because pessimists never actwithout guaranteed certainty) To pessimists, optimists appear to be predicting the future. Which is innately annoying.
Nobody predicts the future.
He said, with an adamant angriness… until he realized that “Nobody” also includes pessimists.
(I just stopped for a moment, to give my head a chance to stop spinning.)
We do it too! (Did you notice the familiar “narrative format”?)
Setting aside that optimism generates greater accomplishment and we should therefore all become optimists, because that is Never. Going. To Happen… intellectual honestly, it would seem, requires pessimists to stop pretending we know the future as well.
Because we don’t.
So we should stop believing it’s going to be bad.
One last question, however, which I present for advanced credit.
I have now been in possession of this life-changing illumination, unearthed during my relaxing visit to the Ranch, for some time.
And yet, I remain as certainly apprehensive of the future as ever.
And I am head-scratchingly wondering,