Viva Optimism

Art made by my spouse Judy for our first solar cooker

Art made by my spouse Judy for our first solar cooker

Optimism is a political act. Those who benefit from the status quo are perfectly happy for us to think nothing is going to get any better. In fact, these days, cynicism is obedience.

—Alex Steffen, The Bright Green City, The Sun Magazine

To Be Hopeful in Bad Times

Howard Zinn, by Jim from Stevens Point, WI, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

Howard Zinn, by Jim from Stevens Point, WI, USA, via Wikimedia Commons

On this Labor Day, here’s a quote from a celebrated historian, the voice of the common people.

“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.”

—Howard Zinn, from You Can’t Be Neutral On A Moving Train, 1994