Friday, February 27, 2009

Thoughts on Optimism – A series of reflections by Director Patrick

Part One: Finding Hope in History

It is pretty obvious to most people now that Jamaica and the Caribbean are going through very trying times as a country and a region. Of course, it is easy to also say that we are suffering from what's happening in the global economy - and particularly that of our powerful neighbour up North, the USA. Some would say this is what happens when we mistakenly embrace wholeheartedly the notion of one village going global as living in a global village and not knowing what either means for us.  

Anyway, many are referencing the Great Depression of the 1930's – and this is where my comment as part of this great movement (which we must not forget has its roots in the USA) is coming originated.

Of Dreams and Deeds tells us that with the depression of the 1930s there was a critical fall in membership but the resolve to serve youth did not fall. In fact there was more than a doubling of the work done with young people. One of the strategies was in building Junior Optimist Clubs – as we see in club President Phil's commitment for this year.  

Another was in finding creative ways for ensuring that the treasury did not run dry. This of course is probably the more formidable challenge at this time.

The important point though is that the history of the movement shows that optimism finds its best reason in the most difficult of times. These are hard times! But these are also the time for optimists to be there for our children as we were in the 1930s and throughout the war years of the 1940s when a deeper appreciation for community service took hold.
It is interesting that the current president of the USA draws so much on the policies of FDR as both came to power in similarly trying times. FDR had a New Deal, Obama has a New Hope. I have never been too keen on expressing pro-American sentiments but acknowledging the roots of the movement to which I proudly belong, I have to draw the parallel.

Again, these are the times at which optimism and Optimists are most needed. History shows that we have done it before and will affirm our doing it again.

Health, happiness and prosperity one an all.

Patrick Prendergast
January 30, 2009

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