Mike Williamson's Case for Optimism
I have been an optimist all my life and despite the setbacks that we have all had to deal with over the past year or so, I’m sure that nothing is going to change any time soon.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not about handing out rose-coloured spectacles and bottles of Kool-Aid – I am an optimist because we humans are very good at meeting and dealing with challenges through our enterprise, our determination and most of all our persistence.
One of my favourite optimists has to be the great Leonard Cohen – sadly no longer with us. At a concert in London a few years ago he said, “The last time I was here was about 15 years ago. I was 60 years old, just a kid with a crazy dream. Since then, I’ve taken Prozac and Ritalin and other anti-depressants; I’ve studied religion and philosophy, but cheerfulness just keeps breaking through…”
Of course, some of the worst examples of people who are not optimistic about the future appear many of the older generation. Note to self – no more school reunions!
I have worked in the water industry for many more years than I care to remember, and what always inspires my optimism is the young professionals that I deal with every day. If I let my mind wander for even a moment, toward the glass half empty mentality, I need only listen to a presentation from a group of YWPs or have a one on one discussion with one of the grads in our organisation and my faith and optimism is immediately re-established and rejuvenated.
Of course, like many of my generation living here in Australia, I grew up in a privileged environment. Unlike my parents and their parents, I didn’t live in a country pummelled by world wars and deprived of much of its youth and opportunity. I wasn’t conscripted to fight in foreign conflicts that had nothing to do with me, and I have lived in a society where free health, education and access to clean drinking water and sanitation are a given.
Yes, we have to face the challenges of the pandemic and climate change, and threats of global conflict – but my optimism continues to thrive because as a society we will continue to rise to these tasks and challenges.
Optimism is a powerful tool - it controls our destiny.
I love the job I do because I am an optimist. I am sure I am one of those fortunate people, who having found the role I enjoy, has never had to “work” a day in my life. Here’s to optimism!
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