Monday, November 9, 2020

The Case for Optimism

Annamaria on Monday

I know.  I say it all the time.  The future looks bright to me.

But the pandemic, you say.  Yes.  Certainly. I do not take lightly at all the unprecedented amount of suffering around the world just now. For this year, and probably a whole lot of next year too, the disease will continue to take its toll.  And even for those who don't suffer its worst, life's simple pleasures will continue to elude us.  We will continue to bear far too much pain and loss.  We will have to remain vigilant.  Like so many others, I will have to endure continual loneliness and isolation.  I survive by reminding myself every day to count my blessings:  I live in a pleasant, comfortable place.  I have enough to eat.  (In fact, there is a good cook in the house.) I also have the enormous benefit of being in a city that has a sense of community, where the overwhelming majority of my fellow New Yorkers have taken the proper precautions and brought the world's worst Covid situation under control and kept it that way.  At least we have so far. Covid is a tragedy.  But it will not last forever.  

When I look ahead, I find great encouragement.  Why? First and foremost just now we Americans, and I think much of the rest of the world population, have been delivered a huge helping of hope with the election of Joe Biden.  It will take a great deal of hard work and good luck for his approach to governing to reap any benefits, but at least we have a better shot then we otherwise would have.

My long-range conviction of a bright future comes from two observations, which I can backup with data.

First in my own country...

The USA has long been and continues to be fraught with internal challenges of racism, income inequality, and political and cultural divisiveness. But a lot of the underlying causes of these problems will die out, because they are not embraced by the young.  Proof of this shows up data from the our recent election.  Look here:

If you look at the overall electoral map, it looks like this:

But take a look at the age distribution.

These choices are based on their political convictions.

If only voters under sixty had voted, the electoral map would have looked like this.

Optimism for the world in general...

I think young people worldwide are growing up more tolerant than other generations have.  We can chalk this up to trends going on for a century or more.  Here is the good news about what the human race has been up to.

Far fewer people live in extreme poverty

Child mortality is also way down.

Illiteracy is waning around the globe.

Similar worldwide gains in education show that average education level of the citizens of the world improves enormously every single decade.

You won't hear about this progress on the nightly news.  Why?  Because, by its nature, the news concerns itself more with the unusual and negative than with positive trends.  But if you take the long-term view, the world is heading in a beautiful direction.  And, given what we know about the youth of the world, when people my age turn the reins over to the young, they will know what to do.



  1. Thanks! We all needed that, and the election results are very cheering too! Only...did you mention climate change in there somewhere? Yes, the younger people are the hope there also, but do we have that much time...?

    1. I can't speak for other countries, Michael, but in the USA, if you want the votes of the young, you have to attend to climate change. In the last debate, our young voters heard Joe Biden speak passionately on that subject on that topic and came out to vote for him in droves. They also feel very strongly about gun control. But before my country addresses that topic, we need to lower temperatures that the Trump administration jacked up to the point of public endangerment. When it comes to racism, the young are clearly in the right (left?) camp. This seems to be true internationally--except for tiny percentages of extreme fundamentalist religionists. Young people around the globe don't seem at all to judge people by on racial, religious, ethnic, or sexual preference bases. They are pretty (ahem) New Yorkish in their willingness to coexist with all types.

  2. I have such a palpable feeling of relief and a loosening of tension in my body this morning.

    1. Oh, Kwei! I have 17,860 music files on my computer that have been playing randomly. Just as I clicked to read your comment above, this Sam Cooke song started on my random playlist. When I looked it up on YouTube to share it with you, I found it with these images:
      Tears came to my eyes. We must believe our hearts and minds and bodies: It's been a long time comin' but a change is gonna come. Yes it will!!!

  3. I like the charts, especially about younger people. There is hope.
    But what appalls me is that 57% of white voters chose the narcissist in the White House. People of color and young people were Biden's voters, in the main. 91% of Black women and 80% of Black men voted for him. The majority of Latinx people voted for him, too, although there was variation, but in Arizona, they did. And the Navajo Nation members rode 10 miles on horseback to vote for him.
    So what is wrong with the millions who voted for the wrong guy? How can they "overlook" the racism, misogyny, anti-science lies, lack of any concern about people dying of the virus, crass, disgusting behavior, making fun of disabled people and veterans? And the trash constantly coming out of his mouth?
    And some of them, whom he encouraged, menaced state legislators, health workers and ballot counters. Where do they go? Back to under their rocks, I hope, but some are armed. Ugh.
    He whipped up those people.
    I heard from a few people that some Democrats still voted for that guy, and some did because they opposesd Kamala Harris. Awful.
    We all survived these four years, but so many didn't survive the pandemic, and more won't. And he can do more damage in two months. So I'm not over the worrying.
    And, if there is a way to meet, socially distant, for outdoor pizza somewhere in walking distance, I'd be glad to meet you outside to do so.
    I'm keeping myself busy with the Internet, reading, MSNBC news coverage, etc. so I don't feel isolated. When I do, I just pick up the phone.

  4. There is no answer to cynicism is to get busy in activism, however you want to do it. Obsessing over how bad things are won't help a person or the planet. Get involved with like-minded people. Do something for other people.