Conditional Optimism

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The old saying goes: A pessimist says that glass is half empty. An optimist says the glass is half full.* But what do you call the person who picks up the glass and fills it? How about a “conditional optimist,” one who believes they can create the future by taking action? This is an idea that was recently discussed on the NPR show Marketplace by Nobel honored economist Paul Romer.

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the future, thinking that our children will never have the same opportunities we had, or optimistic, thinking that we have faced many crises before and overcome them, so we will again. Prospective democracy requires thinking deeply about the future and then taking action to create the future we want for our children and grandchildren–the next generation of voters. Romer’s ideas about the attitude of conditional optimism seems like a fit.

I recommend his interview if you want to feel positive about the future. You can listen here.

Be hopeful, be active

Tom

*And one for fun: An industrial engineer looks at the glass and says, That’s twice as much glass as we need for the job!

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