I would have never considered myself an optimist. I was reading a book recently that changed my mind.
Every problem has a solution. The only thing holding us back from finding the solution is the lack of knowledge. If an asteroid had crashed into our planet 2000 years ago, humans could have done little but stand around and watched. That is not the case today. We can detect one much before it lands and perhaps even attack it with a nuclear warhead.
Typhoid meant almost certain death 500 years ago. Today, no longer the case, we have the knowledge to fight it off.
If you were to show a TV to someone living in 1500; to them, it would have just seemed like magic. Also, it would take a lot of discoveries – electricity, broadcasting, electronics and such before they understand what is going on with the device. It solves a problem but the solution is neither obvious nor easily understood.
Optimists are those who imagine the impossible and chase it. Those who create. Who remain open to possibilities and who believe in solving problems.
Athens would have been considered morally decrepit by the Spartans. Every man born in Sparta was trained to be a warrior. They did not entertain possibilities, there was only one way. Every man born in Sparta was trained to be a soldier from birth. All the work that had to be done was done by slaves. They had very stringent routines and inflexible lives. For all the glorification attributed by Marvel and the movie 300, the Spartans contributed nothing to art and culture. Nobody could be a poet or a writer in Sparta; they all had to be soldiers. Further, they lost. It’s not like Sparta stood the test of time. They were pessimists, preparing for an onslaught. The onslaught arrived and they perished.
Athens on the other hand entertained possibilities. They let art and culture revel. They let state-craft grow. They won more through politics than through the sword. They grew and they prospered.
Being an optimist means being the kind of person who is willing to look for solutions to problems. It means being willing to entertain possibilities and it is about creating.
Are you an optimist?