virgin islands scene

I believe in looking reality straight in the eye and denying it.
-- Garrison Keillor
 

 

The MONTHLY Motivator - February 2016

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Reasons for optimism

The babies being born in America today are the luckiest crop in history.

-- Warren Buffett, February 2016

 

Though I don’t necessarily mean to endorse Warren Buffett’s political or business perspectives, I heartily agree with his recent and highly informed assessment of future prospects for all people alive today. Though you would never know it by looking at the news, there is an unprecedented case for unrestrained optimism right here and now.

There are difficult challenges in your life and disturbing problems in the world at large. Even so, the case for living with optimism has never been stronger than it is today. That’s true on a personal level as well as from a global perspective.

Sometimes it feels like life has stalled. A painful situation arises. A problem rears up and refuses to go away. A tragic injustice, though far away, fills your screen with its horror and becomes a part of your reality. Life’s difficulties are real, as real as anything ever gets. Most of the time, though, they are blown far out of proportion. Yes, life has its difficulties but, compared to what? The fact is, those difficulties exist within a world where there is significantly more human prosperity than ever before in history.

Thousands of years ago, people began to realize the powerful truth that they were better off when cooperating with each other than when fighting against each other. Since then, countless tyrants have tried to hammer that truth out of existence. Though they’ve wreaked much destruction, none have succeeded in permanently setting people against each other. Anger, violence and hatred always end up consuming themselves, whereupon love, and plain old practical common sense, come in and add ever-increasing richness to life.

Our love of the goodness in life and of being in fellowship and service to each other has created a world in which just about anything anyone can imagine is possible. A peasant living a thousand years ago could not in his wildest dreams imagine such a place, could not fathom the immense fortune, relative to his own situation, of even the lowest paid workers in an industrialized country today. We literally fly through the air from continent to continent, and it’s just a routine part of life. We send music, pictures, written words and our voices instantly to the other side of the planet, and carry on intimate, extended conversations with people thousands of miles away, and think nothing of it.

You are the beneficiary of centuries of accumulated creativity, wisdom, experience and effort. So is every other person in this world. Stop for a moment and think about that. And it gets better. Within the last twenty years, you have been granted access to whatever particular pieces of all that collective knowledge you wish to have. The richest, most celebrated king of just a half century ago did not have that. You do. Right now, at your fingertips.

Problems? Yes, there are problems, but consider the context. Those problems exist within a world where positive possibilities expand in an exponential trajectory. What that means is that even the problems are themselves powerful reasons for optimism. In a realm where anything is possible, where value becomes more accessible with every passing moment, problems create the motivation to make progress, to forge great and lasting value out of the possibilities. Problems literally provide a pathway to fulfillment. So even the problems, and in many cases, especially the problems, are cause to be optimistic.


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--Ralph Marston

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