Thursday, April 22, 2010
The Case for Optimism
Today it seems that cynicism is the new black, and optimism is nearly taboo. We take one look at the world, with its recessions, wars, scandals and crises, and proclaim "Anyone who sees this glass half full must be blind."
I'd beg to differ.
What I'm hoping to make with this blog is a case for optimism, specifically in our home county. While we Oakland-ites certainly have a laundry list of things to make even the sunniest disposition a little jaded — unemployment, government scandals, and those darn April snowflakes, to name a few — we've also got plenty to be positive about.
Spring has sprung, and our home towns offer bountiful opportunities to get outside and smell the daffodils. The Paint Creek Trail is starting to green up, and if you stand at the intersection of Ludlow and the trail, just outside of the Rochester Municipal park, and take a deep breath, it's like walking right into a bouquet.
And like spring flowers, new businesses are popping up around town. Did anyone else do a little dance in their car driving past the new Just Baked cupcake place in Royal Oak? No, just me? Okay … Well, anyway, I love the smell of commerce and frosting in the morning!
While I'm sure to be inviting threats of bodily harm by suggesting that the recession may even have a bright side to it, I'm going to do it anyway. Across the county (and the country for that matter), people are taking their economic futures into their hands in new, adventurous, creative ways. My dad's former General Motors coworker is now the proud owner of a Coldstone Creamery in Rochester. Scores of my recent college graduate friends have turned to sites like Etsy, which help you sell your hand-made creations online, to generate some extra cash. A family friend is making and selling paddleboards with his son. Sometimes the best creativity flows out of necessity.
In 1805, the city of Detroit burned to the ground. After the fire, the city established this motto: “Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus,” meaning “We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes.”
Right now, many metro Detroiters look at their lives, their jobs, their families, and see a pile of ashes. I’m here to tell you that better things are on the horizon.
So go ahead, call me a rose-glasses-wearing, tree-hugging, naive hippie. In my opinion, optimism isn’t about being out of touch with reality. Optimism is taking a good hard look at reality and saying “How can I adjust my actions and attitude to get the best possible outcome for myself and those around me?”
And if you can’t do that, then you’re just a cynic. And the last thing the world needs is another cynic.