Optimism searches for, and finds, a silver lining in every funeral pyre and then fixates on that to the exclusion of the funeral pyre itself. It is confidence that “things will get better” based more deeply on a commitment to seeing the bright side than based on the actual state of the world. Hope, on the contrary, is not the belief that “things will get better” but the belief that “things can get better.” To be hopeful is not to be certain that things will improve, it is to refuse to accept that this is as good as it can get. If optimism says “this is the best of all possible worlds,” and pessimism retorts, “you’re right” – it is hope that responds to both by saying “a better world is possible.”
That doesn’t mean it will be easy to reach that better world, that doesn’t mean such a world can come into being without significant effort, and it also doesn’t mean that such a better world will ever actually come into being – but to hold onto hope is to remember that things do not have to be this way. However, to recognize that things do not have to be as bad as they are, you first need to be willing to fully consider how bad things are, and how much worse things can get.
“I have published these words in order to prevent them from becoming true. If we do not stubbornly keep in mind the strong probability of the disaster, and if we do not act accordingly, we will be …
Like Don Watson, the Librarian Shipwreck discusses the sense of optimisim that many are caught up in. This needs to be understood as being different to hope and the realisation that nothing is certain.