As we waited to cross the midnight into the New Year 2010, people had different reasons to rejoice. Some were eager to close down the year 2009 with all its problems, and others would not hide the joy of stepping into the year 2010 with all its expectations.
While the former group was suspicious of the New Year, with fear that it might not make any difference, the latter was very optimistic. Whether you count yourself in the first or the second group, you surely have your reasons.
Are you prepared to walk the walk as a pessimist or optimist? That is the question. During this year let us remember that seeing only the negative aspects of any situation may cause us to miss opportunities, neglect problems that need to be solved, and fail to take action that would otherwise improve our relationships and quality of life. Being optimists on the other hand will enable us to recognize the benefits and possibilities of any situation, and to understand that considering what we have passed through, nothing can be worse.
Generally, optimism refers to a feeling which tends to anticipate the best possible outcome in one’s life and in the world as a whole. Consequently, optimists generally believe that people and events are inherently good, and that most situations will work out in their favour.
During this year, we need that kind of audacity of hope even in a hopeless situation like the one we have known in our country that enables us to be thankful of the tears shed in the past just because they have washed our eyes well enough to see life with a clearer vision today!
A common conundrum takes pessimism for the opposite of optimism, with the question whether one regards a given glass of water, filled to half its capacity, as half full or as half empty!
And conventional wisdom from this cliché expects optimists to reply, “Half full,” and pessimists to respond, “Half empty”, with the assumption of course that “full” is good and “empty” is bad; during this year we should not ignore the practical question “full of what?” before we give the answer to the above cliché.
In fact, as we match through this year 2010 optimistically, it might help to remember that we need to be both optimists and pessimists at times.
When these two are combined in healthy proportions they result in a kind of unfailing hope guided by realism. In fact optimism and pessimism are not necessarily opposites. In psychological terms having more of one does not mean you have less of the other. Nor do the factors that reduce one necessarily increase the other.
Given what we have lived in our country; it is even possible that we might need both in equal supply; the “pessimism of the intellect” resilient to the belief that a popular action will result in meaningful change even in the face of adversity, and the “optimism of the will” which spurs the action of leaving no stone unturned for a meaningful and popular change even in the face of adversity.
Christianity especially in its liturgy of the second Sunday of the New Year, stresses the point above in the meditation on Isaiah 62:1-5;Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11;John 2:1-12, with the image of the wedding and the joy it evokes as the central theme.
In this liturgy at the beginning of this year, reference is made to the wedding at Cana, especially to insinuate that Jesus is the bridegroom.
Jerusalem, taken as the home of God’s people, will no longer be known as “forsaken” or “desolate”, but it will be called “The Married One”. It is a liturgy which calls the Christian community the Christ’s bride which enjoys the diversity of charisma that the one and only Spirit sheds upon them throughout the whole year. It is a liturgy which calls above all for hope, joy and optimism.
The same liturgy however stresses the point of our New Year’s resolution of a certain degree of pessimism in our optimism, because Christians are reminded that as a bridegroom, God remains jealous for his people; jealousy which is manifested in the form of punishment when the bride does not return the feeling! Hence as we walk through this year with our head raised high because God is on our side, we should do it knowing that our behaviour must be evaluated at last.
There is the possibility of a purifying punishment that invites people to live above all as a loving people both towards their God and their neighbours. But the choice is ours.
That is why we need a certain degree of pessimism of intellect and abundant optimism of the will, as we continue to plan for the year 2010.
While our pessimism will warn us of some problems or troubles here and there; The optimism in us shall name all these things “experiences” and we know that every experience develops some kind of latent force that make us grow more vigorous and happy.
May the year 2010 be a year of growth and happiness even in adverse circumstances.