Why I’m audaciously idealistic (I think)

optimisticWe’re in the midst of unprecedented disruption, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll make it to the next century or even mid-century. Institutions are more fragile than we had hoped. The news cycle is a batshit 24-hour cycle of gaslighting by the president and far-right government. Objective facts and reality are questioned to the point of tragic parody.

And yet, I’m hopeful for the future.

I can’t explain it, especially at a time when we appear to be going backward at breakneck speed. That hope compelled me to move across the country. It pushes me to keep going, to keep fighting. In other words — it drives me forward on a daily basis. I refuse to let it die, no matter what overpaid pundits or prophets of doom may say.

Of course, I could cite the statistics that show how we’re better off now than we’ve ever been à la Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now. I could mention the fact that this era of instability and transition presents a golden opportunity for transformative change, or that renewable energy’s proliferation and global climate ambitions increase by the year, making the worst-case climate scenario less likely as time goes on.

But that’s not why I have hope. It isn’t really a numbers thing. I’ve thought a lot about this since Trump won and my sense of optimism was shaken to the core. In one night, much of what I thought I knew about our progress as a country crashed like a house of cards. I felt numb. I, along with millions of others, was terrified of what a Trump presidency actually meant. I basically had a mini-nervous breakdown in the shower the next morning and continued to feel like a zombie for several days. To this day, thinking about November 8, 2016 almost feels like I’m reliving a trauma.

Why do I keep the faith alive? What’s the use? Maybe I really am naive or delusional, and maybe the jaded-asshole process is still ahead. Maybe it’s because I grew up with a belief that I had a duty to live for a purpose bigger than myself. Even though I’m no longer religious, that framework still largely stands. Whatever it is, I keep coming back to the fact that I have an unshakable belief in the human spirit. I know — it sounds ridiculous and corny. But it’s true.

Despite the chaos of current events and our collective existential dread for what lies ahead, I won’t stop believing—fighting—for a future that I know we can reach. We’ve defied the odds since our species emerged from Africa 200,000 years ago, and we always seem to come through fires more resilient than before.

We’re all part of a story that transcends each of us. Progress is a continuous, generational struggle, one with frequent setbacks. It’s maddening when it happens and easy (even natural) to feel like it’s all been in vain. It isn’t until we step back and see the 30,000-ft. view that we realize how far we’ve come. My own compulsion to explore boundaries and connect to consciousness is innate in all of us. I know it is.

No matter what 2020 has in store, the beat goes on.


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