I’m reading The Optimist by Laurence Shorter. It’s a book about hope and optimism. It’s autobiographical; an author’s quest for meaning; hoping that true optimism (and the pseudoscientific psychobabble he espoused) can cure the social malaise that plague society today. it’s silly and (appears to be) satirical, it was deftly written, but it also took its subject seriously at some point
He interviewed numerous people, among them Richard Branson and Desmond Tutu. Branson believed that optimism was about “loving what you were doing”, and that caring about others and giving back would propel us forward as a species—it’s something to do with karma, something karmic. Unfortunately, his is a philosophy that wasn’t easily understood. But it was Desmond Tutu’s words that hit me (all because of its timeliness) here’s a quote: “you’re cynical because you think that external things can make you happy…you know, a smart car, a nice house, a beautiful wife, but it was discovered long ago…[that] you don’t have to be a Christian to realize that…all of these material things, wealth, success, sex…they don’t actually have the capacity to satisfy.”
And then there was the interview with a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, an author, Imaculee Ilibagiza. She believed people, despite their capacity to commit evil, were innately good. This I found touching and a bit hopeful, and I made a quick note of this in my journal. She said even the most hardened criminal could change for the better; all must be forgiven, she said. My dear why aren’t you a saint yet?
The book is not self-help. Like I said, it’s largely autobiographical. I’m about three quarters into the book. Among my best books of 2016 so far. You should read it
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