Our Optimism is not Irrational

On Saturday we shared a quote on the Facebook page from Thursday night’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart“. A lot was written Friday and Saturday about Jon’s choice not to tell a series of prepared jokes, as is the normal format, in favor of some cathartic ranting about race and guns in America. At the end of the show, though, after spending some time talking to Malala Yousafzai, Jon gave us this vital reminder:

“I think the easy thing to forget is how easy it is for darkness to wreak havoc and to forget we’re really much more surrounded by light.” ~ Jon Stewart

This is so important to remember. In the Five Smooth Stones of Liberal Religion, we are charged with actively working, with body, spirit, mind and wallet, to make good things happen in the world, because that is the only way to guarantee they ever will happen. We are also reminded that the roll of history shows us that people will keep working to make good things happen; they will demand more justice, more equality, and they are slowly becoming more compassionate as we recognize our similarity outweighs our apparent differences. We have every reason to be hopeful.

It takes a lot less time and effort to be hateful, destructive, or to create chaos than to build something worthwhile, to repair or heal what has been damaged, or to work for compassionate compromise. Evil, as we know it, is easier. The entire span of human history tells us that there will always be more people working for the common good, even in small ways, and that the moral arc of the universe will always, though often subtly, bend towards justice. We just have to keep applying the right kind of pressure.

For those who would like a some lightweight science and data to help you justify your optimism, I refer you to Hank Green: Optimism is Not Insane.

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