“… if you look beyond the tumult of sensational headlines and well-publicized atrocities, there’s a quiet trend of improvement throughout the world.
But although it’s sometimes drowned out by the drumbeat of fear-mongering, the progress that gives rise to hope is real and ongoing.
As we near another Christmas I don’t know if it is because I associate hope and hopefulness with Christmas or that I tend to pay attention more to the good things happening in the world (the sometimes unnoticed small steps of progress) than I do the bombastic voices of ‘everything is bad’, but despite all the noisy shitshow stuff happening, I do believe there is a quiet trend of improvement happening before our eyes.
I say that recognizing it is tough to be optimistic these days. And I don’t mean because of what is actually happening in today’s world, but rather because if you are optimistic you run the significant risk of being trampled by a herd of cynicism, pessimism and those unwilling to believe the future can be better than the past. But I believe the bigger challenge we face is a general reluctance to believe people can change or should be forgiven.
There is a quiet voice of positive being overwhelmed by a loud voice of ‘nothing can be good’
I mention this because I just reread an old Pope Francis Christmas homily. It was positive, hopeful, instructive and a request that we look beyond decadence and selfishness in order to raise all of human kind to a better place.
It is the kind of message you would hope a religious leader would give.
And then I made the naïve mistake of scanning the comments underneath the article <in several papers>. An overwhelming amount of comments were … well … negative.
<a> suggested the message was misguided <somehow some people saw it as anti-capitalism>,
<b> suggested the Pope was a hypocrite <because he represents a church with millions in assets>,
<c> the church had no basis to offer hope because of past transgressions or
<d> religion is bad and therefore what religious people say is simply fantasy <even if it is a good message>.
It is like people were seeking reason to not accept the positive message.
Let’s be clear. The Catholic Church and its history is strewn with moments of sin. And, yet, the Church has a Pope who not only accepts it, but is trying own its history. Should we judge an organization by the moments of transgression & sin <albeit they can be heinous transgressions on occasion> or by the true intent & soul of the organization … and its voice for the future? That is a big question with an answer bigger than I can offer.
That said. I find it disheartening that we cannot accept positiveness and hope without trying to burden it with cynicism or pessimism.
Good is good.
Hope is hope.
We shouldn’t discredit the words or the thoughts as we seek to diminish the bearers of the words & thoughts. Maybe we should seek to find the good in what someone says rather than find reasons to point out why the words are flawed or the deliverer is some insincere fraud.
This leads me to the bearers of the words & thoughts.
“People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.”
Well. Surely … doing good today doesn’t absolve you from something you did bad yesterday. And, yet, I could argue those who have made bad mistakes in the past, and recognize them as bad, are most likely the most qualified to lead today.
I scan the headlines of the papers and there are a shitload of flawed people saying a bunch of smart, positive, hopeful things.
I scan the headlines of the papers and I see article after article diminishing the people who are saying these things by pointing out past transgressions or their ‘lack of consistency’ with regard to their beliefs <so why should we believe their positive thoughts>.
Smart flawed people, who maybe had flawed ideas in the past, are often smart enough to realize they need to change or make changes.
I would like to point out that the difficulty seems to arise not in the person who has changed but in those around the changer. While the best of the best changers seek to build the new, ignoring the old, we the people, continuously fight back with the old.
We seem hell bent on not letting people even try to change.
I would like to remind people of several things:
Andrew Carnegie, whose Pinkerton men shot down workers at the Homestead strike in Pittsburgh, also left the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an international network of public libraries.
John D Rockefeller, whose use of troops against Colorado mineworkers led to scores of deaths, including of women and children, created his foundation, so creative for young people worldwide.
Alfred Nobel, arms manufacturer and “marchand de mort extraordinaire”, set up his peace prize.
Regardless. I fully understand why some people want to hold on to the ‘better days of the past’ and nostalgically wish we could go back to many of what are perceived as ‘better ways of doing things.’
It is natural and, honestly, comforting. But I don’t understand why we far too often hold on to the ‘bad things from the past’ and constantly burden good people who, sincerely, want to show change and offer a better version of themselves with the intent to create a better version of the world.
Far too many people today do not see much to be upbeat about. They simply see a lot of existing problems getting worse. And because of that they are tending to gather around anyone promising a return to an imaginary past era of greatness.
Some of the best leaders today are those who were in the past, and in the past flawed, and now are new versions of themselves and do not want to return t some past but try and create a new future.
We should allow them to change.
Especially if they are one of the valuable few who see the good and hopeful and optimistic in the world. For they are the ones capable of showing us light when dark can appear to be winning.