17 March 2009


I am going to write a big blog post today so hold on to your mouse and be prepared - but not scared! I'll be having a break from blogging after this post, but please keep your comments coming in.

Are you an optimumist?

Whenever anyone asks me if I am an optimist or pessimist, I usually reply that I am an optimumist. Are you one, too?

While an optimist usually thinks the best will happen and a pessimist usually thinks that the worse will happen, both points of view are lazy ways of thinking.

The optimumist, on the other hand, knows that it is important to recognise both opportunities and potential catastrophes, and plan for both. The optimumist identifies the possibilities within any given situation, through the lens of historical understanding.

Characteristics of optimumists

To be an optimumist means to understand that all living things and relationships require balance. The body needs homeostasis. The mind needs equilibrium. The world needs peace. Health is the basis of all justice.

An optimumist, as a social entrepreneur, attempts to recognise and overcome the pressures caused by manipulative bullies, obsequious sycophants, gangs, fans and fanatics. Optimumists are generous but not extravagant. They know how to live within their means. They are considerate but know when to say "no".

If you are an optimumist, you have the ability to distinguish between your own essential resources, and the ones to share with others without losing your own homestasis, peace and equilibrium in the process.

But how do you really know if you are an optimumist? Is it something you can tell about yourself or is it something only others can tell you? Who, though, is the best judge?

Barriers to optimumism - media

The media is often a barrier to optimumism. We view the world through it as though most human experience is a drama. The media is there mainly to entertain us, even when telling bad news, just like a comedy or tragedy. Its purpose is to capture our attention and prevent us from feeling bored.

Whenever I hear about world events in the press, on television or radio, and often through the Internet, too, I look for the adjectives used, the tone of the story, the emphasis given to particular factors, and the questions asked. I also try to identify what has been left out.

I have a theory that most reporters and news editors must have had very boring childhoods. This especially applies to those who are excited by disaster. Their curiosity is not for humanity, human needs or even human suffering, but for the most violent aspects of life. How can we live in an optimum way by focussing only on the worst, which to some people is darkly entertaining?

Barriers to optimumism - lawyers

Why is it that a legal training is often seen as a route to wealth and power? Is law a route to justice? Can anyone with less than a lawyer's income receive justice through legal redress without becoming bankrupt in the process?

Perhaps many people are prevented from acting for the benefit of others through fear of not knowing if they would be doing the right thing by the law. Seeing a lawyer is somewhat like seeing a dentist. There are likely to be undefined high fees and some discomfort. At least with dentistry, the outcome is usually more certain.

Barriers to optimumism - taxation

Why is it that the profit-based activities of individuals receive plenty of tax breaks but the same only usually applies to individuals' not-for-profit activities relating to the upbringing of offspring and other dependant family members (at least in once-developed economies)?

Not-for-profit entrepreneurial activities by organisations might be free of tax, but the same or similar activities performed by people as individuals usually have no tax status.

For example, an individual social entrepreneur's activities in a taxation sense are often categorised as a "hobby" unless the person charges fees for their services. This status cannot help to optimise people's contribution to society. It means that individuals who act in a caring, unpaid manner away from a bureaucratic context cannot deduct their expenses against other income.

Yet donations to the charitable institutions which do similar work are often tax deductable.

Barriers to optimumism - sport

My favourite definition of sport is the biological one, given in "The Macquarie Dictionary": an animal or a plant, or part of a plant, that shows an unusual or singular deviation from the normal or parent type; a mutation.

In human culture, sport is an activity seen as a diversion from normal life. My theory is that sport was invented by drama-seeking, restless males as an excuse for avoiding domestic chores.

Sport is essentially a selfish pursuit, by the participant and the spectator. It is mere entertainment without any worth beyond distracting people from their responsibilities. I am sure, though, that plenty of people will wish to disagree with me!

I prefer to keep fit by gardening and walking, and by doing half of the housework.

Barriers to optimumism - fundamentalism

It is not possible to be an optimumist without an appreciation of poetry. Fundamentalists, in my definition, are people who lack poetry. They see all prophecies as self-fulfilling yet will themselves remain unfulfilled because they do not know their own minds, or those of others.

Supporting optimumism

Keeping well. Thinking well. Planning well. Seeking valid alternative points of view. Enjoying reality. Contributing to good policy, waste reduction, and good governance. Enjoying considerate, intelligent company. Maintaining an uplifting sense of humour. Relaxing. Learning to live quietly.

Thank you for reading this!

Kind regards, Via.

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