Day 19: Ode to optimism

I recently subscribed to a magazine called Ode which started as a Dutch mind project and has become a bi-cultural periodical in the US as well. The subtitle is, A Magazine for Intelligent Optimists. I always liked what I read in the  mag since they incorporate a good mix of politics, technology, scientific innovation, sustainable living and justice based ideas. They aren’t partial to any religious ideology so often you find articles about people who are Christians making a difference in the world. It’s great.

Today I was reading about a group of guys who are making a documentary about people in America who have been affected by the financial crisis in a variety of ways. They are finding people who are banning together in communities to help one another through the hard times. I’d love to see this film and what type of things people are doing for/with one another. The man they interviewed was spot on when he said what a lot of progressives, such as the main bulk of readers for this magazine, I’m sure are not saying. He said that politics, either side, is not what is going to bail us out of this mess. It’s all about relationships and caring for one another in our humanity. (I’m paraphrasing) I was struck with the nature of this project and others that they highlight in this periodical.

I’ve been stirred more than a dozen times as I’ve read about common people who are engaging with injustice, poverty and innovation to do something real in this life. It’s profound. It gives me hope that I can be an agent of change in a variety of small ways, which is the point of this magazine.

Last year I sent an email out to a LOT of people asking them to send me stories from around the world where the church was engaging with culture to bring about real and lasting change. I was feeling a bit let down and pissy that we talk about transformation so much but it’s like we’re waiting for something major to occur before we’ll get around to making the thing we talk about actually happen. Yet I know stuff is happening out there, somewhere in the abyss of real and mundane life. I’m sure of it! It has to be, right?

So I asked for stories. I wanted to hear and to know, to be inspired and hopeful. I had two responses. Two! There’s something about optimism and hope that gets us off our arses and puts a fire in our belly that begins to churn with rich and delectable ideas. You feel your mouth water just thinking of your potential when you hear about some shlub down the street who was poor and uninteresting (so it seemed) and rocked his community, or some community, with righteousness and humility. “If he can do that imagine what I can do?” you say.

I have mentioned a lot on this blog that I struggle with perspective. I always have been a half empty-er. In fact I would go so far as to say that even if the glass is half empty I probably won’t drink it just because I’m so disappointed with how it tastes; it wasn’t what I was hoping for or expecting so now the whole thing is ruined! I need reading material like Ode in my life to give life to my spirit, to cause me to salivate at the possibilities in this life. There is so much I want to frown and pout about as I hear the news….Oh the injustice of human trafficking and forced child prostitution!!!! But if I can see the hope and dignity that others are creating and responding to then there is a chance that I’ll feel charged inside and hope for more to come.

I’m thankful for the optimist, the hopeful and excitable one. You, optimism, will be my friend because you smell sweet and you have light coming out of your eyes. You make me want to be a better person, more lovely. I want to grow older knowing that life is wonderful and longevity is a gift not a curse. Walk with me my dear, sweet optimist and teach me how to dream….

What are you thankful for?

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