Dear Mike, 

I’ve been watching the news everyday with my dad this summer, and I feel like it just made me realize how bad the world right now! All I see is death and war and it seems like there’s nothing that’s improving nowadays. Do you think it’s possible to stay positive in this political climate?

In 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report warning us that we only have twelve years left to try and curb the fast pace at which the Earth is warming. Newspapers are overflowing with stories of famine, mass exoduses of refugees, natural disasters or terrorist attacks.

Looking at it that way, the world in which we currently live in doesn’t appear very attractive, and it seems like there is not much hope for any improvement close-by. More and more people are reconsidering the choice of having children since they do not see the point of bringing in what might just be another consumerist on this already crowded planet. Being positive seems naive, as only those who are oblivious to what’s around them could possibly be happy in a time like this.

However, before becoming a radical nihilist, here are a few things to consider:

First of all, although it can’t be contested that a lot of places are presently undergoing crisis, we have to acknowledge that, one, globalization and the now faster than ever speed at which information travels, makes us see everything that’s going on at the same time and, and two, that most media platforms tend to concentrate on the most dramatic events of the day. This is the result of a capitalist market that takes advantage of the often greater popularity of a horror story than a happy one, but it also stems from the extensive importance that journalists and editors will give, rightly, to the accounts of catastrophes than to the regular lives of fortunate people.

And so, as much as it is disheartening to open a journal only to find pages and pages of tragic news, we should be grateful that these stories are getting to us and that we have a sense of what’s happening all over the world from our own house, something that wasn’t imaginable a few decades ago. We sometimes feel as if everything is taking a turn for the worst, but it is simply because we are more aware of it than before. 

Certain things have been improving in the past years, notably the rate of child mortality that significantly dropped going from 90 deaths per 1000 births in the 1990s to less than 50 in 2018 or the number of war deaths that has reached its lowest level in the 2000s. We can also be proud of a significant rise in the fight for LGBTQ+ community and for women around the world, as this year marks the first time an Asian country legalizes gay marriage and as a growing number of women are speaking out about sexual violence, even in countries where the grip of patriarchy is particularly strong such as India, Indonesia or South Korea. All of these are of course not a reason to close our eyes on our problems simply on the basis that we are progressing, but they should act as a fuel to guide us into further actions that will better our world.

A second reason for not falling into a pessimistic worldview is that such an approach would be a huge hindrance to any real progress. If when starting to address a problem we are already telling ourselves that any attempt to solve it will be a failure, the odds are high that it indeed will be. History has shown us many times that politician promises are often idealistic compared to what ends up happening. I believe that we achieve around one-third of what we set out to do. Therefore we should aim for the unreachable and maybe one third will be enough. Once again, this is not an incitement to live in a fairy-tale and blindly believe in a happy ever after but rather to keep hoping and trying to achieve the best, because doing nothing won’t lead anywhere anyway.

 This brings us to my third point, which is that being negative is simply helpless in every aspect. On the individual level, it will just make you sad and hopeless, probably making you feel depressed on a daily basis. There is no advantage, except maybe the mere satisfaction of saying “I told you” to those who believed in a better future if your murky predictions end up becoming a reality. On a larger scale, the impact of a great number of people simply not doing anything because they don’t see it as worth it is devastating. If hope dies all of the issues that made us lose it in the first place won’t be fought against anymore, making our sentiments worthless. If the value of being positive seems hazy, the outcome of being negative is certain: it won’t help anything. 

And so, in conclusion, I can assure you that it is indeed feasible to stay positive in the current political climate, and I’d add that it is essential. Although it can be difficult, try and remind yourself of what is going well and improving, and consequently, what you can do to improve things further because after all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

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Mike Bowles 2.0

Author Mike Bowles 2.0

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