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Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future?

April 19th, 2013

Do you find yourself trying to decide on an opinion or feeling about the future and find it hard to come down on one side or the other? I’ve tried for ages to get a sense of the ‘state of the world’ and the way it is heading. Now I’ve come to the conclusion that ambivalent feelings are perfectly natural…perhaps that’s why OTOH is a popular acronym. Here’s an excerpt from an interview I had with the splendid Beetroot Books – the green alternative to Amazon:

Society does seem to be changing as the collective realisation of where we are now increasingly triggers positive action. Are you optimistic that there’ll be enough momentum to steer us voluntarily towards a more harmonious relationship with each other and Earth? Has the current paradigm run its course?

I’m very optimistic and I’m very pessimistic about the future. I have spent years trying to decide which of these feelings is the right one, but I have come to the conclusion that there are certain questions that naturally evoke an ambivalent response, and that rather than trying to reject one in favour of the other, I need to accept both.

On the one hand I see the global awakening that is occurring, the thousands of fantastic projects that are being born (Paul Hawken in ‘Blessed Unrest’ is good on this), and the incredible new inventions that suggest we really can turn things around. And on the other hand I see the mass extinction of species that is occurring, I see war, starvation and the destruction of the Earth continuing unabated, and I can see nothing but a bleak future for our grandchildren.

Somehow I have to hold both those feelings in my mind, for to focus only on the positive seems like naïve denial, and to focus only on the negative is just a recipe for unhappiness and renders me less able to be of any use in the world.

It’s in response to this question that I believe a spiritual path can be of real value. We all need inspiration, a sense of meaning, nourishment, connection, and support on our journey through life. If we are to give of our best we need these things, and it’s the job of a spiritual way, and of spiritual leaders and teachings, to offer these things.

If we are able to plug into this flow of meaning and encouragement, we can ride the waves of hope and despair in relation to the future, and as a result be of more use to ourselves and those around us.

Read interview