A Warriors Optimism
“Pessimism never won any battle.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
First, an apology and confession: I never finished my traditional weekly rumination on martial arts living and values lat week because I felt too beaten down by the subject. Civility is what I wanted to talk as I read about and saw the pictures of the anger, hate and violence in Virginia last weekend.
I was even more deflated reading about Heather Heyer, killed in Charlottesville that weekend, who reminds me of slightly older version of my own daughter: a young woman with strong convictions on justice and equality and a desire to act on those values. I found myself wrestling with the desire to ask Autumn to maybe stay away from any protests or demonstrations, at least until things in this country aren’t so crazy. And that bummed me out even more. No parent should have to worry about their children getting hurt speaking out about their beliefs–especially in this country.
Then, of course, there were the Barcelona attacks and the reminder that there are people so consumed by hate that they are willing to commit any atrocity against any man, woman or child.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by what we see going on in the world. It’s easy to feel anxious and helpless. But I’ve been reminded of a couple things that bring me great peace of mind and — yes– optimism.
The bad guys are in the minority. Look at any demonstration held by a hate group. Fr every person throwing a Nazi salute, or every person who shows up looking for violence and chaos, you will see dozens — even hundreds — of people who show up to champion peace, compassion and reason. And they do it in reasonable, compassionate and reasonable ways. Pictures of the hateful and violent will always get more air time on the news… but they take up far less space on this earth than the good guys.
Don’t worry about the war–there are battles to be won every day. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the best of human nature is constantly at war with the worst. This struggle between hate and fear on one side and love and hope on the other has always been going on, and — barring any huge evolutionary leap on our part — always will. It’s easy for an individual to feel powerless when faced with conflict on such a huge scale.
The fact is, every one of us has a hundred opportunities a day to strike a blow for good in our immediate community. Those opportunities come in every single interaction we have with the people around us: the opportunity to be friendly rather than aloof, to be patient rather than frustrated, to smile at someone rather than ignore them. To (as any of our young martial artists will tell you about the meaning of “respect”) treat others the way we want to be treated.
And there is perhaps the greatest reason for optimism: those young warriors who are learning and living these lessons in the Dojo and beyond. They are becoming strong and fearless. And most importantly, they are growing up kind and compassionate. They are developing themselves every day as warriors in the service of all that is best in us, and that is a reason to be very optimistic indeed.