Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts on optimism – A series of reflections by Director Patrick

Part II - The future and confidence in being prepared

Optimism is not the same as faith – believing in the unforeseen – but rather, optimism is having confidence in what you know is both possible and will.

In The Harder They Come: Jimmy Cliff declares, as sure as the sun will shine, I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine. That’s optimism. That is confidence in knowing that tomorrow will come. The question is not whether we will be there to prove it true or not but in how prepared we are to be there when tomorrow comes.

We know the sun will shine and though night may fall there is still light. We know this in the existence of the moon. The moon is merely a reflector but in that projection is the knowledge that sunlight is a constant.

Neither is optimism the negation or counter of pessimism as most people tend to believe. Optimism is an acknowledgement that in every adversity there are opportunities for innovation, for creativity, for uncovering other ways of reaching the goal. In other words, not every dark opening is a cave; some are entrances to a tunnel and we are confident in light at the other end of a tunnel. Some are fountains of life waiting to be tapped.

But again, it is how prepared we are to enter that dark space and discover that it is a tunnel that will make the real difference. It is how prepared we are to enter that dark space and having to create a new pathway to the light that will make the difference. It is how prepared we are for the water that springs from our initiative that will make the real difference.

Despite all the atrocities being committed against our future – and here I speak of our children – we must do everything to prepare them for the day when they will emerge from the troubled times in which we all must survive.

There is a saying that he who fails to plan plans to fail. If adults fail to prepare a solid foundation upon which our children can learn creativity and innovativeness as skills which improve survival, then dark spaces will become prisons of fear, hopelessness, and despair instead of an invitation to confidence, hope, and assurance in their capacity to change the world. Rivers to cross will become embankments of loneliness and playing for time rather than streams of endless possibilities for a different and better way of living.

Viewing optimism this way means therefore that when we as optimists say we are friends of youth, or that we are in the service of children, we have declared a commitment to the future. And by extension we have declared a commitment to the value of being prepared. Children are our future becomes more than a truism. It becomes a philosophy – a guiding mantra. It is an acknowledgement that the future will face its own set of adversities and its own crosses to bear. It is an understanding which fires our confidence as optimists.

The confidence of optimists is not merely in the possibility that tomorrow such troubles can be transformed into victories but more so in the knowledge that our children are prepared to be transformers as much as we are for that transformation.

After all, optimists think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best

Patrick Prendergast
February 2, 2009