I’ve been fascinated by the evolution of the world for the longest time; it has been turning on its axis for the past 3.8 billion years. When I was young, an old uncle gave me an encyclopedia on the first inhabitants of planet Earth. I was interested in these human ancestors and the shape of their cranium, which evolved over time as they resourcefully found ways to live and survive.
The courageous human race has overcome wars, epidemics of all sorts and terrible famines capable of decimating thousands of people in no time. My classical studies quickly taught me about the disruptive turns in history: religious wars, territorial conflicts, witch hunts, insatiable appetites of hungry dictators and more. When I hit middle age, I learned about climate change and melting glaciers, devastating hurricanes, racial attacks, new religious clashes and illegal and often deadly migrations.
Recently, nature’s rebellion has stirred my fears. Fears of unbearable heat, a scorching sun and non-stop wildfires that turn our planet into a gigantic funeral urn. If I didn’t have optimism on my side, I would tremble with fear. And now, amidst the numerous worries we’re already facing, a new threat appears disguised as our nation’s saviour – artificial intelligence.
As I write these light, joyful letters to you, dear readers, this new and intangible discovery has my mind in knots. I’m worried this new threat will force me to speak to a robot pharmacist about the brown spots that are spreading over my hands and climbing up my arms.
Every once in a while, my bravery returns and I learn about the advances made in artificial intelligence. One thing’s for sure, I will always have both hands on the wheel and my right foot a fraction of second away from the brake when I drive my car.
The earth spins so rapidly that we never have time to hold our eyes still and really look at what’s happening. Capitalism, consumerism and “I don’t care-ism” manifest together to offer a better life, and humankind, this intelligent chimp, always succeeds in printing enough money to save appearances and gift wrap the latest treats.
My optimism is all about the immateriality of things. It doesn’t stop lucidity, global warming or humanity’s potential extinction. I firmly believe that there’s a force powerful enough to overcome all these obstacles in nature. I grab on to this force and hope against all odds.
There is a Native American legend in which an old Cherokee tells his grandson: “Within all of us there’s a battle of two wolves. One is evil. He is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. The same fight is going on inside of you, and inside every other person, too,” explained the wise Cherokee elder. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The grandfather simply replied, “The one you feed.”
That is what I believe. What matters is to feed the positive forces within ourselves and to starve out the negative ones. My optimism feeds the good wolf; I nurture joy, peace, hope and kindness in my heart, or at least I try to.
I always try to be aboard the boat of the miraculous catch of fish, my net filled with hope. I have this constant need to improve myself, to practice kindness, goodness and love of the other. That’s how I feed my good wolf, as often as possible.
I discovered, while researching scholarly publications, that all human beings are equipped with the “optimism” genome. From what I have read, geneticists have proven that it exists within our DNA. Apparently, we are not all equally gifted when it comes to optimism, but we can all improve our capacity for it.
It also seems that optimism is the common denominator of charismatic personalities, visionaries, creators and agents of change. Optimists are fighters who see the glass half full instead of half empty. According to Michel Poulaert, a motivational speaker and author, “If all inventors had stopped at their first failure, we’d still be living in the Stone Age.”