Meet the Rational Optimist
By Bryan Caplan
Some say we need pessimists, to see what’s wrong with how things are, and push for positive change. Yet pessimism and cynicism actually foster resignation, despair, and a sense of powerlessness—a “why bother?” mentality. And, while modern social alienation is a staple of the pessimist litany, much of that is traceable to the psychology of pessimism itself. After all, you won’t likely feel a compassionate connection to your fellow man if you see him as basically selfish, violent, and guilty of making a terrible doomed world.
And here’s the rational optimist qua parent:
We need hope to find life worth living and face the future. We do that most obviously by creating the next generation. Nowadays, many question whether it’s right to bring a child into “such a troubled world.” My wife and I actually had that conversation. But, convinced that in fact people today have it far better than any past generation, we went ahead and put the condoms aside. We are very glad we did — and so is our teenage daughter, who understands what a blessing it is to be alive — especially in today’s world, which, for all its troubles, she keenly appreciates as the best ever. (Kids sometimes do listen to their parents.)
Rational Optimist, I’m glad that you’re glad that your daughter is glad.