📑 Rebecca Solnit on Black Swans, Slim Chances, and the 2020 Presidential Election

Bookmarked Rebecca Solnit on Black Swans, Slim Chances, and the 2020 Presidential Election (Literary Hub)

Donald Trump wasn’t really a black swan because everyone saw him coming; it’s just that a lot of people didn’t think he’d finish the journey. If you’re blindsided by climate disasters or Republican corruption, it’s not because they’re black swans; it’s just that you ignored the evidence. A pandemic like this had long been predicted. The nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl was waiting to happen, thanks to bad design and bad maintenance protocol. One huge problem with human beings in general, but particularly those who suffer from overconfidence, especially because they think they’re in charge, is that we tend to dismiss the unlikely and prepare for what we think of as the likely, even as we live out a history full of black swans and unlikelihoods.

Rebecca Solnit reflects upon the world that we are currently in. She calls for hope, not optimism:

Black swans happen. Which is why I’ve modified the slogan, hope for the best, prepare for the worst to: Hope and work for the best (and also be prepared to wrestle with the worst if it arises).

This reminds me of a piece from the Librarianshipwreck in regards to COVID-19.

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.”

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