Optimism for year ahead
Here’s a headline I’d like to see in 2019. “Trump closes Twitter account: says social media is ‘fake news’.”
It will never happen. It has as much chance as “Kim Jong Un signs on as Widow Twanky in 2019 pantomime season”.
How about: “Brexit promises huge economic benefits for New Zealand”? Or “Politicians bury party differences to work together for the country”?
We all want to see change this year, whether we want it as personal improvement or something with global benefits — and we can have both — but general consensus is that things just can’t carry on as before.
That’s why the end of one year and the beginning of another is generally a time of optimism, an annual, sunny season of hope, in which we look forward to the things that could be, that should be, to replace those that failed, look like failing soon or just have a bad feeling about them.
We need that optimism, even if only to convince ourselves that we haven’t accepted a faulty status quo or dropped our standards to accommodate ever lowering benchmarks.
How often do we say, “Things were much better once, but we can’t go back to those days”?
We might constantly look back to our personal “golden age”, but resign ourselves to the belief that anything good has to remain in the past and we have to put up with what we have now. Change must preclude a recycling of past glories; we have to look forward to new ways of doing things, is the feeling.
Anyone who dares express a nostalgic sigh is accused of living in the past, that the way of the future is to embrace the present in its entirety and improve on it. But, really, it’s like taking a faulty phone and trying to fix it by downloading more apps.
So what can we hope for? What good is our optimism if the future is yet another version of the imperfect present?
Because as humans, as individuals, we are all capable of initiating change, that’s why.
Others have done it before us and will do it again. Edison didn’t invent electric light by trying to make a better candle. Bell didn’t see improved communication as just shouting louder or waving bigger flags. Helen Keller didn’t retreat into a world of dark silence and give up hope. All those people used new ways of thinking and looked far beyond what existed. Karl Benz wasn’t trying to improve the horse when he invented the automobile, and what was that unnamed person thinking when he (or she) harnessed fire for warmth and cooking? I wonder if any of his contemporaries looked back fondly to those days when food was eaten raw and everyone shivered. As hard as it is to imagine, there was a time when “Things were better in my day” was a load of prehistoric codswallop.
There are many who accept how things are and try and make the best of it with charitable programmes, filling in gaps and helping as many less fortunate people as possible. Thank goodness for those benevolent souls. They fly in the face of those whose philosophy is all about personal responsibility.
Then there are those who look at the root causes that created those charities and programmes and want to fix them, to make such measures no longer necessary.
Economic realities require poverty and unemployment, is something I have often heard, expressed in various ways, but that’s only if your world is a spreadsheet of profit and loss.
Our “modern” society is focused on wealth and its distribution.
Our institutions function via ledgers and our dreams have to be costed.
Your education and healthcare are based on what is possible with the funds available, bearing in mind that a lot of money also has to go towards projects to enrich the already wealthy. That’s the way we function now, for the time being.
To object is to reveal oneself as a whingeing leftie.
Real change is not an adjustment of current trends, but a whole new — or old — way of looking at everything.
It sometimes means pulling societal structures down and building new ones, with new architects and a different contractor to get a result that looks nothing like what was there before.
It means the renaissance of new — or old — perspectives, giving good ideas a chance and using seasonal optimism as a tool to help get things done.
Otherwise, how long will it be before the drudgery of daily life grinds away the hope and we fall back into the routine of last year and the year before, accepting that there are too many things we can’t change so we just have to go along with them, no matter how imperfect they are?
Let’s keep the hope alive, look for ways to make things better and then act on it if we can.
Happy New Year everyone.