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What are you optimistic about?
Alex Steffen, 26 Nov 06
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In September, we asked you whether you were optimists or pessimists, and got some great, heartfelt and interesting responses. So we were thrilled to find out that John Brockman's latest question is "What are you optimistic about? Why? Surprise us!".

It's a good question: we'd love to hear your answers in the comments below.

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I'm optimistic that science and technology got us into this mess and it will get us out.

Posted by: gnomic on 26 Nov 06

I'm optimistic that the so-called "snowball effect" is picking up speed...more and more people are making small changes in their lives and moving towards a more sustainable lifestyle. It's becoming hip and cool, for example, to have a reduced carbon footprint.

Posted by: Patrick on 26 Nov 06

I am always optimistic that despite all the crackpots in the world, as more people are exposed to technology and information, an educated world population will slowly turn the tide in favor of the kind of world some of us dream about.

Posted by: Deepak on 26 Nov 06

I'm optimistic that here in Australia, and increasing number of people seem to be starting to 'get it'. Even our continually skeptic political leaders are changing their tune on climate change/sustainability issues, even if only for political expedience and continuity. Sustainability, even if by subterfuge, is still better in the entire game plan than 'business as usual'.

And who knows, if enough of the general public gets it while the leaders don't, that might just be the catalyst for leadership change too..... :) Margaret Mead summed it up nicely I believe.......

Posted by: Michael O'Brien on 26 Nov 06

Having just watched An Inconvenient Truth this past week, I'm optimistic that I'll be more informed about, and doing more to help reduce, global warming. More generally, I'm optimistic that if people give themselves the opportunity to really see and feel what we're doing to the planet, a change in perception, attitude, and urgency will happen.

(BTW, Bruce Mau has an article on optimism in the latest issue of Walrus)

Posted by: Rick Pan on 26 Nov 06

I am optimistic about the capacity for collective action that lies waiting to be unleashed from our current machine-like organizations. Neither technology nor education alone will solve the structural challenges that we face. After all, information about poverty and ecocide have been out there for a long time and we are currently sitting on a wealth of climate crisis-fighting technologies that we are hardly using.

Institutions that embrace the non-linearity of unleashed creativity in networks of interest are my hope for the future. In many ways, their creation is a design issue - and thus I'm optomistic about the contributions that design thinkers will have to that oldest of questions:

How do we, as a collective, make authoritative decisions?

Posted by: Jamie Biggar on 26 Nov 06

I am optimistic that, generally speaking and with local exceptions, life gets better and not worse.

I'm specifically and cautiously optimistic that the fledgling industry of which I am a minor player in a small company in - that is space launch - is on the brink of explosive growth that will see enormous wealth generated and allow our species to transend our humble terrestrial home.

Posted by: Brian on 26 Nov 06

I'm optimistic about my own life, something that I haven't really been for a long time. I see things around me starting to turn around, like the other posters have said, and I feel like I have worked to get myself into a position to be part of the change and that really makes me feel optimistic. When I used to be a
'disaffected liberal' I was a pessimist; everything was going wrong and it ate away at me. Now that I'm a networked and connected radical, the world is going more my way.

Posted by: Greg Ehrendreich on 27 Nov 06

I'm optimististic that humans will realize the potential for telepathy and collectively work towards this goal.

Posted by: sona on 27 Nov 06

I'm optimistic about flowering plants and insects. They transformed the earth once, and opened a whole lot of possibilities that made "life as we know it" possible. They're up to the challenges we face, and their agenda has one item: persistence. If we pay attention and try to learn from them, we may increase our own chances.

Posted by: Ted on 27 Nov 06

Realist. no -isms. Everyone in the comments above seems to be optimistic. I am Realistic: we'll go through - indeed, we are already going through - a great deal of pain and trouble, and at the same time I believe we'll get much wiser in the process. The rules that apply to all species apply to us as well, I think we will learn quite rapidly what these rules are.

Posted by: eric ezechieli on 27 Nov 06

I'm not sure that optimism is the right word. Hopeful, yes, with a modicum of optimism... that "America" is finally starting to creep out of the negative energy well, with market forces, civil society, and even many religious groups beginning to embrace sustainability. Think of that first car on a roller coaster, when it finally reaches the top of an incline (a potential energy well). The cars behind it are still dragging it down via gravity, but there is just enough kinetic energy to pull it over the top -- and then some.

Posted by: Stephen A. Fuqua on 27 Nov 06

I'm optimistic that, despite the grave challenges we face, virtually all the changes we need to make will lead us to happier, healthier, safer, richer, more interesting, more meaningful, more fulfilling and more beautiful lives. I'm optimistic that we'll find solutions to some of our most intractable problems by searching, honestly and unflinchingly, for what, truly, makes life worth living.

Posted by: David Foley on 27 Nov 06

I'm optimistic about collective responsibility. I will see it absorb and render neutral most acts of extreme foolish heartlessness whithin my lifetime.

Posted by: Randy J. Hunt on 27 Nov 06

I am optimistic that the Toronto Maple Leafs will win the Stanley Cup in my lifetime. They haven't won since 1967 and I was born after that.

I think I am young enough that it will give them enough time to put a winner together before I die.

You haved to be-leaf!

Go Leafs Go!

Posted by: Anthony on 28 Nov 06

I am pessimistic that even after the Australian Federal Senate inquiry found FOR an early peak and decline in worldwide oil production, nothing has really happened yet. After 2 exhausting years campaigning for peak oil awareness, I am pessimistic about our capacity to really understand threats this big before they hit.

However, I am optimistic that ultimately once the crisis unfolds in a few short years, we will eventually "get through" it... although the pain will be that much greater because of our procrastination. A "Greater Depression" seems inevitable now. But we will make it. That Worldchanging is so aware of peak oil gives me some hope.

Posted by: Dave Lankshear on 28 Nov 06

I'm optimistic about children, things can change, hopefully for the better, in just one generation.

Posted by: Tavita on 28 Nov 06

i try to be optimistic -- and it's hard. but what choice have we got? pessimism leads to inaction ("what's the point of making any changes - it's too late"). hopefulness can be motivating (but only if we go beyond the feeling to create meaningful action). reality is messy and complex so you can spend all your emotional energy finding out how bad things are -- or you can try hard to work with others to learn about (and implement) small solutions that can add up to pockets of sustainability. there's lots of good out there just waiting to be re-discovered and consolidated and brought into the "mainstream".

Posted by: ginger on 28 Nov 06



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