The well worn saying about an optimist seeing the glass as half full and a pessimist seeing it as half empty came to mind a few days ago after a conversation with my son about the debt ceiling debacle and the sad state of politics. It is easy to be pessimistic when capitulation to the radical right is presented as a compromise. Sometimes I am depressed and wonder if the glass is even half full.
After the phone call, I started to think about all the major changes in our society during my lifetime. When I was in elementary school African American's were still riding in the back of the bus, women couldn't even consider some careers, the disabled had to muddle through with no accommodation, and no one even spoke of gays. Alternative energy, environmental impact, and recycling were unknown. National Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other cultural organizations didn't exist. If I look at the progress in my lifetime, it seems more like the glass is filling up.
Whenever there is change there will be resistance. The radical right is upset by this rapid progress toward a progressive society and hell bent on going back to the dark ages, but I don't think most people will want to give up what has become common place.
Not everything that has happened in the last sixty years has been for the common good. Mistakes, greed, lust for power, and ineptitude have given those who are fearful of change the ammunition they need to attack progress. We have also lost civility in public discourse between the radical elements on both sides.
In spite of the problems, I still want to see the glass as half full and continue to look for simple ways I can make a small difference in the world. If I watch the news or read the paper too much, I get discouraged and give up trying. We can't do that if we want to move forward and work toward a society that embraces diversity, cares for those who are less able to care for themselves, supports education, values creativity, and is a peace maker in the world.