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Optimist, Pessimist or Realist? Where do you sit?

 
Gone
 
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Gone
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07 January 2019 19:25
 

Which category do you belong to? Normally I’d try and start a thread with some kind of substantive contribution but this article has reinforeced my dark perspective of our species so maybe I’m best taking a back seat for a while? Well, for a few posts - - -  if there are any.
https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/greatest-danger-in-decades-trump-ignoring-grave-risk-for-world/news-story/a3412e7c3e82dee629ae70ad998df791

 
 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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08 January 2019 15:24
 

I agree with all of the points in the article, but I’m amazed that the most dangerous threat to mankind and life on the planet — global warming — wasn’t mentioned. Our Orange Clown King has said it’s a hoax.

I think it’s nearly impossible to be an optimist given the severity of the problems we face and the fact that greedy oligarchs and corporations have joined forces with corrupt politicians for the short-sighted benefit of only themselves. However, Pessimism only brings a sense of helplessness and futility, and as for Realism, well, it probably does the same.

So, what’s left?

I’m trying to take both the long view and short view about it all. The long view goes like this: In the grand scheme of this unfolding, timeless, nearly infinite universe, all things, including us, are merely a passing phenomenon. I try to embrace the inevitability of impermanence and to enjoy the magic show while I can. The short view is about my own internal states of being from moment to moment. I try not to let fear, hatred and sadness take hold of me. I consciously look for the beauty and wonder in life. I try to feel compassion and love for my fellow humans, other sentient beings, and even myself. I fail miserably most of the time. But I keep trying. I don’t know what else to do.

 
 
Gone
 
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08 January 2019 23:05
 
Cheshire Cat - 08 January 2019 03:24 PM

I agree with all of the points in the article, but I’m amazed that the most dangerous threat to mankind and life on the planet — global warming — wasn’t mentioned. Our Orange Clown King has said it’s a hoax.

I think it’s nearly impossible to be an optimist given the severity of the problems we face and the fact that greedy oligarchs and corporations have joined forces with corrupt politicians for the short-sighted benefit of only themselves. However, Pessimism only brings a sense of helplessness and futility, and as for Realism, well, it probably does the same.

So, what’s left?

I’m trying to take both the long view and short view about it all. The long view goes like this: In the grand scheme of this unfolding, timeless, nearly infinite universe, all things, including us, are merely a passing phenomenon. I try to embrace the inevitability of impermanence and to enjoy the magic show while I can. The short view is about my own internal states of being from moment to moment. I try not to let fear, hatred and sadness take hold of me. I consciously look for the beauty and wonder in life. I try to feel compassion and love for my fellow humans, other sentient beings, and even myself. I fail miserably most of the time. But I keep trying. I don’t know what else to do.

Opposition to the idea of global warming being a reality might possibly be understood when vested interests are involved, such as from those employed in, say, the coal industry. What I can’t get my head around is today’s anti-science mind set. The Australian Liberal Party ( not ‘liberal’ in the US sense but conservative) has traditionally been a supporter of science and technology. Now the party is ignoring the warnings of 93% of environmental scientists. I can’t get my hear around it.
You make some valid points about your own mental states in relation to the future of our species. I have the advantage (?) of being old and ill enough not to be around much longer. I find it hard to cope with the young asking me questions about the future. I recently had a 3 year old ask me. “Are they trying to kill me too?”  I’m glad I’m not his parent .. You could say that three year old will be one of those who needs to not be infected with hopelessness as his generation is part of the solution. Problem is, by the time today’s three year old is in a position to do anything about preserving life in this planet it very well could be too late.
A group who do anger me though are the religious ‘end of days and the ‘rapture’.
I suggest no single ideology will get us out of this mess. What’s required is an honest appraisel of the nature of our species and why we so easily (excuse the mixed metaphors) burry our heads in the sand swallowing a poisonous dose of deluded groupthink.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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09 January 2019 09:41
 

We really can have it all.

It’s easy to be optimistic when you realize things are temporary and mostly beyond our control.  Then it’s easier to go with the flow while saving energy for only the most important endeavours that require swimming upstream.

It’s easy to be pessimistic when you look around and see the grotesque abuses of power and influence serving the few rather than the many.  And the apathy of the decadent self absorbed masses entertaining each frivolous whim.

Realism is the only worthwhile way of looking at life.  It illuminates a world where an optimistic outlook only materializes from a collection of pessimistic experiences.  Without the sour the sweet would never taste so sweet.

Anything else is a fantasy.

 
 
Quadrewple
 
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09 January 2019 15:03
 

What makes me pessimistic is that people don’t understand the differences/connections between concrete and abstract reality.

Financially, the model of our government is unsustainable.  At some point, it is guaranteed we will have to drastically cut spending and/or raise taxes.  Does anyone have a plan for what we do when that happens?  Didn’t think so…..but few humans are mature enough to grapple with this reality, let alone even acknowledge it in the first place.

What do humans do instead?  They invent complex jargon and theoretical scenarios wherein concrete reality (like hard numbers) doesn’t matter.  They squabble about irrelevant nonsense (like the majority of debates about social issues) and the important topics (like can our society even pay its bills for one) are never discussed.

The sad thing is that if we can’t even get that far, we have no chance of constructing decentralized, robust incentive structures to fall back on once the current model collapses (which is again, mathematically inevitable).

The bigger an economic incentive structure gets, the less control the people whose incentives built the initial structure have over the structure’s growth.  At a certain point, the incentive structure acquires a “mind of its own,” based on the shared interests of those inside that incentive structure. 

This has already happened with the nation state experiment - the government and its initial purpose have been completely mutated into a massive weapon that everyone is desperate to control (to either point it away from themselves, or at others).


The government shutdown, despite what you think of Trump or the Democrats’ handling of the situation shows just how unstable our society is.  The centralized model of both government and education is archaic in the Information Age but the financial interests which resist progress are too powerful - as are the emotional interests of the many people benefiting from the way things are.

I’m optimistic that if our narrative about what the purpose of our society is becomes coherent and even somewhat unified, we can do great things.

I’m optimistic that people will be unified enough when the government stops the welfare checks, food stamps, pensions, SS, etc that we can abandon this foolish experiment with a centralized monopoly on power that we delude ourselves into believing we control.

I’m not optimistic that the people in our societies will open their eyes to the fact that we’re all financial slaves to the government, so stupid we defend their monopoly of power over us (and then squabble about what that monopoly of power should do).

I AM optimistic that if people have the maturity to grapple with the real world, we will expand well beyond this Earth and make this Earth a much better place to live than it even is now.


BTW, all this is true whether or not climate change is an immediate or medium-term threat to human life.

 
 
Gone
 
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09 January 2019 16:18
 
LadyJane - 09 January 2019 09:41 AM

We really can have it all.

It’s easy to be optimistic when you realize things are temporary and mostly beyond our control.  Then it’s easier to go with the flow while saving energy for only the most important endeavours that require swimming upstream.

It’s easy to be pessimistic when you look around and see the grotesque abuses of power and influence serving the few rather than the many.  And the apathy of the decadent self absorbed masses entertaining each frivolous whim.

Realism is the only worthwhile way of looking at life.  It illuminates a world where an optimistic outlook only materializes from a collection of pessimistic experiences.  Without the sour the sweet would never taste so sweet.

Anything else is a fantasy.

I think I understand your view from the perspective of psychological self-preservation but I can’t see how it might help solve the world’s problems.

 
 
LadyJane
 
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09 January 2019 16:42
 
Dissily Mordentroge - 09 January 2019 04:18 PM

I think I understand your view from the perspective of psychological self-preservation but I can’t see how it might help solve the world’s problems.

I didn’t realize I was expected to help solve the world’s problems.  Very well then.  Back to the drawing board!

 
 
nonverbal
 
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09 January 2019 17:28
 
LadyJane - 09 January 2019 09:41 AM

We really can have it all.

It’s easy to be optimistic when you realize things are temporary and mostly beyond our control.  Then it’s easier to go with the flow while saving energy for only the most important endeavours that require swimming upstream.

It’s easy to be pessimistic when you look around and see the grotesque abuses of power and influence serving the few rather than the many.  And the apathy of the decadent self absorbed masses entertaining each frivolous whim.

Realism is the only worthwhile way of looking at life.  It illuminates a world where an optimistic outlook only materializes from a collection of pessimistic experiences.  Without the sour the sweet would never taste so sweet.

Anything else is a fantasy.

A-priori optimism is an essential cognitive ingredient for any healthy creature, it seems to me. Lose track of optimism and you might lose track of your will to live. Whether or not your optimism at times is founded on true reality seems somehow unimportant, especially if your optimism finds a way to be balanced by severe pessimism at times. Maybe it seems unimportant to me because I realize that seriously feeling people can always see through current optimistic attitudes/moods into muted depths of pessimism, which can propel them into action. Without action, things never improve.

 
 
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09 January 2019 17:34
 
LadyJane - 09 January 2019 04:42 PM

I didn’t realize I was expected to help solve the world’s problems.  Very well then.  Back to the drawing board!

I suppose my sloppy expression comes from the idea without a sense of ‘doing something’ peace of mind is a difficult, and possibly, impossible to attain. Unless one is skilled at detachment. That however doesn’t gell with the Buddhist injunction to be compassionate. (I’m aware this last term can cover a multitde of sins.) I suppose I could simply admit our species is a failed experiment and focus on being detached from the entire horrifying mess. Somehow find myself unable to attain that state.

 
 
icehorse
 
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09 January 2019 20:55
 
nonverbal - 09 January 2019 05:28 PM
LadyJane - 09 January 2019 09:41 AM

We really can have it all.

It’s easy to be optimistic when you realize things are temporary and mostly beyond our control.  Then it’s easier to go with the flow while saving energy for only the most important endeavours that require swimming upstream.

It’s easy to be pessimistic when you look around and see the grotesque abuses of power and influence serving the few rather than the many.  And the apathy of the decadent self absorbed masses entertaining each frivolous whim.

Realism is the only worthwhile way of looking at life.  It illuminates a world where an optimistic outlook only materializes from a collection of pessimistic experiences.  Without the sour the sweet would never taste so sweet.

Anything else is a fantasy.

A-priori optimism is an essential cognitive ingredient for any healthy creature, it seems to me. Lose track of optimism and you might lose track of your will to live. Whether or not your optimism at times is founded on true reality seems somehow unimportant, especially if your optimism finds a way to be balanced by severe pessimism at times. Maybe it seems unimportant to me because I realize that seriously feeling people can always see through current optimistic attitudes/moods into muted depths of pessimism, which can propel them into action. Without action, things never improve.

what nv said, (better than I could have)

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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10 January 2019 08:44
 

I’m optimistic about people and culture. Pessimistic about institutions and authority.

 
proximacentauri
 
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10 January 2019 12:37
 

I’m pessimistic about people and culture. I’m also pessimistic about institutions and authority.

Guess that means I should go ahead and silt my wrists now. But I think I’ll wait until I finish this single malt scotch. It’s damn good.

 
bbearren
 
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11 January 2019 07:19
 

Pragmatist.

 
 
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11 January 2019 19:10
 
proximacentauri - 10 January 2019 12:37 PM

I’m pessimistic about people and culture. I’m also pessimistic about institutions and authority.

Guess that means I should go ahead and silt my wrists now. But I think I’ll wait until I finish this single malt scotch. It’s damn good.

Depends on which single malt scotch. If it’s ten year Hellyer’s Road from Nth Tasmania I’d wait too.
https://hellyersroaddistillery.com.au
Why so often do we encounter these ‘pessimism’ V ‘optimism’ debates? Surely if we recognise a reality threatening our survival or the survival of our entire species that’s realism? In some instances the only logical foundation for action eventually justifying optimism.
Or more simply, there’s no point in suggesting solutions until and unless a problem is identified.

[ Edited: 11 January 2019 19:13 by Gone]
 
 
LadyJane
 
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12 January 2019 06:16
 

Check out Lucky if you haven’t yet already.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KLLkj84GAo

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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12 January 2019 07:08
 

A family had twin boys whose only resemblance to each other was their looks.  If one felt it was too hot, the other thought it was too cold.  If one said the TV was too loud, the other claimed the volume needed to be turned up.  Opposite in every way, one was an eternal optimist, the other a doom and gloom pessimist.
Just to see what would happen, on the twins’ birthday their father loaded the pessimist’s room with every imaginable toy and game.  The optimist’s room he loaded with horse manure.
That night the father passed by the pessimist’s room and found him sitting amid his new gifts crying bitterly.
“Why are you crying?”, the father asked.
“Because my friends will be jealous, I’ll have to read all these instructions before I can do anything with this stuff, I’ll constantly need batteries, and my toys will eventually get broken”, answered the pessimist twin.
Passing the optimist twin’s room, the father found him dancing for joy in the pile of manure.  “What are you so happy about?”, he asked.
To which his optimist twin replied, “There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

 
 
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