From: Lawrence DeBivort (email@example.com)
Date: Wed 11 Dec 2002 - 01:13:48 GMT
Yes, the world seen pessimistically has its many advocates and
practitioners, and a ton of examples to demonstrate the reasonableness of
seeing it that way.
But the counter-examples are as numerous, and, to me, more indicative of the
true potential of things.
Pessimists too often will aim low and achieve little. Optimists give
themselves and their children a chance for much better. Optimists can become
dispirited, of course. But, I think, better a transient dispirit than an
Supposing there is only a small chance to build a better chance for our
species and our kids. Is it not worth attempting? Where is the benefit in a
preemptive foreclosure of hope?
The dialogue that I foresee need not require nor first seek a common ground
for all. I have spent many a useful hour with people with whom I have little
in common, or little in common that we could both openly acknowledge.
Sometimes these hours were poignant and gentle; other hours were brutal and
angry. Sometimes they were with declared enemies, and yet through the pain
understanding and the initial flickers of respect emerge. From such small
steps, undertaken by as many as are hopeful, great sea-changes can emerge.
Perhaps, this time, they won't, and perhaps our species will fail its coming
tests, and see its potential frittered away. That is possible. But as long
as it may not be so, it seems to me worth the effort to swing the
probabilities a bit further our way....
I do understand and sympathize the feelings that can lead to pessimism, and
the things we do to protect ourselves from hopelessness. There is always
hope, sometimes hidden, sometimes occluded by the black heaviness of today's
headlines. So sometimes we have to search for that flicker, and let it
gently come to full life. It is, I feel, part of our human heritage -- and
genius -- that we can everyone of us do so, alone and with others.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]On Behalf
> Of Steve Drew
> Sent: Tuesday, December 10, 2002 7:07 PM
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: RE: Toward a new US-World dialogue
> > Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 12:28:20 -0500
> > From: "Lawrence DeBivort" <email@example.com>
> > Subject: RE: Toward a new US-World dialogue
> > Jeremy, greetings,
> > I would not characterize the discussion here on this list as
> anything close
> > to the dialogue that is needed, for several reasons:
> > 1. There is no participation from third-world folks
> > 2. There is little true listening and questioning. This may be
> a weakness of
> > email, and it has a lot to do with the interactional dynamics.
> Sometimes we
> > are better at it than at other times!
> > 3. The subject of this list is memetics; the subject of the proposed
> > dialogue would be the issues that divide the species, and the
> exploration of
> > a view of the species that allows sub-components to avoid destructive
> > relations with other parts.
> > The levels of pessimism that those who responded to the
> proposal expressed
> > saddens me. There is so much potential for participation and
> > I hope that this pessimism is transient. There is a big and
> wonderful world
> > out there (despite the negatives that so easily capture our concern and
> > energy), full of resources and potential capability, of learning and of
> > joining with others to build better things than we can alone.
> It is to this
> > world that we should be engaging ourselves.
> There is indeed a big and wonderful world out there, and the (to my mind)
> problem is that the number of divisions between peoples seems (?) almost
> insurmountable, hence some of the negativity you have encountered. Most of
> mine stems from my encounters with the world and people, and the repressed
> desire to bang some peoples heads together :-)
> I might add a no. 4 What are the commonalities between people
> of culture, religion etc? Find what unites and the thing that divides can
> sometimes look damn silly. Presume you are familiar with Needs Theory etc?
> BTW have you read the Mote in God's Eye By Niven and Pournelle? SF that
> dwells on pessimism big time.
> > Best regards,
> > Lawry
> This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
> Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
> For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
> see: http://www.cpm.mmu.ac.uk/jom-emit
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