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Faith in Optimism

By Edited Oct 21, 2015 0 0

FAITH IN OPTIMISM

Life connotes existence of man. When looked at critically, existence has two polarities from any standpoint. One polarity is symbolized by the brightness and splendor of the rising sun at the dawn of the day. The other polarity is symbolized by the falling of darkness and obscurity that comes sooner after the sun sets in the western horizon. Hope of a better day, blossoming with liveliness and animation rests assured by the dawn of a bright day. However, no sooner the night falls and darkness strikes than people go to sleep. Worry too, dread of nocturnal burglars and the loathsome demise are etched in the minds of the people. Many sleep not to awaken at dawn.

Wiliam shakespeare, a genius writer grasped these two polarities of existence in this dictum, “The good that men do lives after them, and the evil they do is intertwined with their bones.” In all cultures of the world, men have a moral obligation to do “the good” and shun “the evil” The maxim, “Do unto others what you would like them do unto you, “says it all. The emphasis is, “Do the good”. On the bright polarity of life are the “doers” of “the good”.

On the other extremity, the polarity of doom and gloom are men who deliberately choose to do just the opposite. They do “the evil” unto others as much as they do to themselves. Guilty conscience condemned Judas Iscariot to hang himself and many continue to do exactly that. The existence of “the good” and “the evil” are realities of life_ of the essence of life. “The evil” exists in the world as a mystery that boggles the human mind. God is! Why then “the evil?” “the good” and “the evil” exist as paradoxes and relative.

One man’s meat is another man’s poison. The statement simply means that what one man considers to  be “the good” is “the evil” to the other man and vice versa. “The good” of shedding blood by Osama Bin Laden and Muammar Gaddafi was judged by the whole world to be the greatest evil against humanity. The death of the two great terrorists was judged to be “evil” by sympathizers. But for those who love justice, the demise of the two was celebrated in the whole world as an achievement of “the greatest good.”

David Hume, an empiricist and philosopher argues intelligently that ideas have a cause and effect relationship. He gives the following example based on geometry. “The square of the hypothenuse is equal to the squares of the other two sides.” Hume’s notion of “relationship of ideas”, therefore offers a possibility to make the following philosophical deduction or inference. That the two polarities of existence, “the good” and “the evil” are essentially related to “optimism” and “pessimism”

Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary defines optimism to be “The tendency to expect the best in all things; confidence in the success of a course of action”. Optimism is derived from Latin, “optimum” meaning the “best” Man therefore, lives with hopefulness of expecting “the best” in all possible worlds.

In the contemporary days of Leibtniz            , skepticism was in the air, people asked, “How can we believe in God when there is so much evil in the world?” The people thought, “Life is a curse and there is no such thing as free-will.” Pessimism prevailed as a fashion and disease. There seemed no hope for man. Leibtniz, the greatest philosopher of the time, brought unrivalled knowledge to cure the world of pessimism. Against the malady of pessimism he brought the faith of optimism. He asserted, “The existing universe is the best of all possible universes.”

In human existence, optimism is ideally the “best and the greatest good” that man strives for and endeavors to hold in possessions notwithstanding the difficulties and hardships that one encounters in this life. This then is the crucial question: what is this contemplated “best” and “the greatest good” that man ought to achieve in life? The reflection on this question, subtle as it be, gives “the best” answer that encompasses well acquitted facts in life.

[1] HAPPINESS: In man’s existence, Dr. William Luijpen maintains and asserts a basic principle of human life. “That man’s destiny is essentially happiness.” Ultimately, in man’s co-existence with others, conscience destines man to bring happiness to others. Happiness, the well-being of man, is an idyllic state of life. This state of bliss is experienced in man’s existence when there is relatively no apparent invading presence of “the evil.” Man’s experience of this earthly well-being comes, to each and every man through the basic provisions of life. And these are: [a] clothing [b] food [c] shelter [d] medical care. [e] Good health [f] other factors that indispensably enhance happiness in life, make the main content of this entire article.

[2] PEACE OF MIND. External peace, its real existence, depends entirely on inner peace of every man. Peace is the calmness and tranquility of the mind. Inner peace is a pre-requisite for a happy life and pursuit of the other factors and activities that enhance and make life worthy living. In striving for inner peace, the following factors need to be taken into consideration.

[a] Make a choice of situations that enhance calmness and tranquility.

[b] Be wise enough to shun situations that would obviously provoke distress and troubles.

[c] Trouble-cum-problem makers exist as a necessary evil. Maturity and caution is therefore, required in handling these individuals without aggravation.

[d] A mind bankrupt of ideas lacks the wisdom to understand the dictum of Socrates, “Man know thyself.” In creating the culture if reading, one is already on the path of inner peace.

[e] The culture of reading not only keeps one “informed” but has also an added “Advantage”. The “Advantage” disposes on with the readiness to accept what happens in all situations of life. More in particular, to accept what is beyond human power to change.

[f] Create your own universe with personal values. Two most important values are: [i] to accept the reality of evil in human nature. Men will do the evil to you for one reason or the other.

[ii] Hence, human nature requires not revenge but forgiveness form the bottom of the heart.

[g] Set the mind on “the good” to avoid the torment of conscience. Be your own master of all situations, above all:

[i] Avoid the influence of pressure groups.

[ii] Subject flaring tempers under control.

[iii] Never lament over the past.

[iv] Focus the mind on the success of the present.

[v] Focus the mind on the future, with hopefulness, confidence and success of your aspirations or ideals.

[3] HEART FLOWING WOTH LOVE

 Love has nothing to do with sentimentality. In any case, if love was equated with sentimentality, the truth then remains that sentimentality has never accomplished anything in the world. Karl Marx was critical of the Christian spiritualistic conception of love. He called it “religious nonsense” for failing to accomplish anything in the world. The world is no better by preaching love on the pulpit.

Exceptionally, a few have a heart flowing with love, Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Florence Nightgale of the Crimean are the best examples. Dr. William Luijpen offers “the best” treatise on the phenomenology of love. Essentially, love is the concern for the “well-being” of others. It is the culture of bringing or taking “happiness to others. Man needs, “to conquer egoism, selfishness and greed so as to realize “self” in the world for others. “         

The needy are the poor, the sick, the hungry and the suffering. The miserable life-situation of these desperate people is a direct appeal or invitation to those who are better disposed to help. The response to the needy is a positive “saying-yes,” the “best” way of manifesting the empathy and sympathy. The following are good examples of “saying yes” to the appeal of the needy.

[a] Alleviation of the sufferings of others demands “sacrifice” or “self  denial”.

[b] Provision of education for those living in the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy.

[c] Building dispensaries and hospitals to provide healthcare and medical services.

[d] To render humanitarian services in the manner rendered by the Red Cross. Abbas Gullet does a commendable job of appealing for funds to feed those starving during severe droughts.

[e] To give hospitality to others. The African culture of hospitality is “the best” in the world.

[f] To fight and root-out agents of evil in the world, terrorism and dictatorship.

[g] Building of modern roads and establishing traffic laws to reduce road carnage.

[h] Establishing social and political infrastructure that assert democracy.

[4] DEMOCRACY. The Greeks through Plato were the first to realize political optimism of democracy. Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Democracy came into existence as “the best” system of government that satisfies contentedly the aspirations or ideals of the citizens. Civilized nations of the world, with a few exceptions of those adhering to communism, have practiced democracy since the dawn of renaissance and the French revolution in 1789. The continent of Africa is thousands of years behind civilization. The African nations, with an exception of a few, have rejected democracy, and instead have developed preference for despotism, dictatorship and autocracy. The trio is the absence of democracy, that which denies man his political aspirations and ideals. The following to mention but a few, are “the evils” of dictatorial regimes.

[a] The citizens suffer the agony of outright denial of freedom, man’s, “best” birth right.

[b] Citizens live under the oppressions of eccentric individuals.

[c] Citizens are ever on flight and refugees as a result of civil wars.

[d] Coups d’etats are matched up to merciless military rule.

[e] Notorious crimes against humanity have left millions of people dead.

[f] Citizens live in abject poverty due to the corruption and nepotism of the dictators

[g] The dawn of 2011 revolution in Egypt, Algeria and Libya sets hope that may possibly bring democracy in the continent of Africa.

[5] EDUCATION:

The formal learning, introduced by the British colonialists and the missionaries introduced the 3Rs that enabled the Africans to read, write and do simple arithmetic. A totally new skill is offered without the asking as “the best” means to fight and root-out “ignorance” and “illiteracy”. Education is “the best” item that landed on the continent of Africa from Europe. The knowledge thus gained offers the Africans “the best” orientation to life. However, since independence, education has not yet been fully and wholly exploited for benefit of the people.

Initially, the successful learners, in colonial era were employed as clerks, teachers, nurses and askaris. Others became priests, pastors and catechists with little education acquired by the introduction of the 3Rs.

Academic backwardness has made African continent to lag behind civilization. Africa has not had and may never produce genius characters like Albert Einstein. African governments have great responsibilities and challenges to emerge form their cocoons of “egoism” selfishness” and “greed” so as to promote and advance the education of their citizens. The vision can be realized in the following:

[a] Corruption, one of the many “greatest evils” of greed by senior personalities in the government, though believed to be men of integrity, are retarding the standards of education in the country.

[b] Abject poverty is making education unaffordable by the majority of the people. Poverty has to be eradicated in order to make education Affordable to all citizens.

[c] Citizens have a “birth right” to be given free education from primary to the university. Failure to achieve this objective has the adverse effect of disadvantaging those living in abject poverty. Only the wealthy elite will continue to enjoy the advantage and benefits of educating their children.

[d] Pathetically, pastoral [nomadic] communities have been marginalized both in colonial days and after independence, and denied the right of education. Fate holds on them to perish in green pastures. African governments earn a lot of foreign exchange, when tourists come to see the Maasai in their traditional attire of “leso,” with their hair dyed with red ochre. However, when the rains fail for years and severe drought strikes, the government watches as the animals die in hundreds and worse no compensation for the littering carcasses.

[e] The girl-child in the poor families is the most disadvantaged in acquiring education. The girl-child is subjected to early marriage in order to alleviate poverty in the family. Chiefs and their assistants are stooges who seemingly have no power to eradicate this cultural practice. A girl-child, a school drop-out enters either into prostitution, works as a house maid or bar-maid in order to earn a very meager salary for a living. ‘The girl-child faces brink of uncertainty. The popular saying, “To educate a girl-child is to educate the nation” has yet many years to be pragmatically realized in the African continent.

[6] EMPLOYMENT

Population is on the increase and mushrooming. Conspicuously, migration to urban and city countries is on the increase and tripling in incredible numbers. The educated class desert life in the countryside and settle in the precincts of urban and city centres. Here they build a home. Teachers are the only exception, in that their career confines them unconditionally in the countryside. The African countryside is associated with the aged, retirees, the less educated, illiteracy, survivals of the fittest and abject poverty. Urban and city centers are the green pastures of the educated class. The green pastures provide job opportunities and employment. Employment is a reward of many years spent toiling over books. It is the greatest advancement and achievement of education. Africa is a continent of great wealth, notwithstanding, there exists a looming scarcity of job opportunities. Unemployment is a predicament and an agonizing state. It is a sting worse than that of a scorpion. Unemployment raises the question, who has the responsibility to provide job opportunities?

[a] The government exists in power for the people. The people pay taxes; the government earns foreign exchange through tourism, borrows heavily from the western governments and the World Bank. So without hesitation, the government creates and provides for job opportunities.

[b] The government has the liability to provide a conducive atmosphere for private and foreign investments. Safaricom for example has employed more people than any one government ministry.

[c] The potential wealth of the continent has yet to be fully explored and exploited by the government. Alternatively, foreign investors have the financial potential to make an exhaustive exploration once given a go ahead.

[d] The culture of corruption and nepotism are diabolical obstacles and impediments to acquiring employment. The poor are the most disadvantaged because they can hardly afford exorbitant money to corrupt so as to get employment. The government, hopefully, has to extirpate corruption and nepotism.

[e] The government of the people by the people and for the people is destined to bring happiness to the citizens by creating job opportunities. In so doing the government keeps the eyes of the people constantly on the bright side of the things.

[7] ECONOMIC PRODUCTIVITY

Africa is not an industrialized continent. The main economic activity of the people is agriculture. Man from the ancient phase of history identifies himself with nature. He realizes himself by turning and dominating nature. Nature is the object of man’s activity. This activity is work, and man is essentially a worker. Work provides man with the basic necessities of life, namely food. People in the countryside labour tirelessly, come sun or rain, to produce enough food for themselves and surplus to feed those living in urban and city centres.  “I am my brother’s keep.”

Work and economic productivity makes people to co-exist, be together and accompany one another in life. Co-existence is a way, a mode or epitome of the following;

[a] Self-realization.

[b] Self-humanization.

[c] Establishing human-relations and

[d] Acquiring genuine-peace.

One crucial question remains to be asked. How then does man in the countryside come to his self-realization as potential worker and realize the elimination of poverty?

[a] In the countryside there are no standard infrastructures in existence. No electricity to provide energy and no tarmac roads to transport agricultural goods to the market.

[b] Rivers exist as the bounty of the Mother Nature and there are many of them. Construction of dams for irrigation would turn waste arid land into potential agricultural land. In seasons of drought, food would be plenty to feed the nation without appealing to the West for food relief. Dams have one added advantage, namely: harvesting rain water that would otherwise drain into the oceans in the seasons of heavy downpour.

[c] Traditional methods of farming are outdated in the modern world of advanced technology. These farming methods, it must be said, keeps the African continent in a backward and retrogressive state. How long will it take for the government to introduce “High Tech Farming” in the countryside? The introduction of this technology would reduce migration form rural to urban centres. The Europeans who have brought this technology in Africa are sending signal to the African governments. Many employees in these European farms are Africans.

[d] Agricultural raw materials are exported to industrialized countries. After processing, Africa is the damping market of the manufactured goods at a triple price. African leaders must come to their senses and stop exporting agricultural raw materials, and instead build industries, boost employment and export manufactured goods at a triple price and boost foreign exchange.

[e] African leaders have the expertise of stealing billions and banking them in foreign accounts. Corrupted ethics is the modern cultures of African despots. It makes them exist-for-themselves but not for- their-fellowmen. This question boggles the mind every man of integrity and good will. When will optimism replace egoism? It is when Africans come to realize that “doing evil” is the worst legacy to leave behind in history. A legacy of disgrace.

 

The general factors thus enumerated are the objectives of optimism desirable by all men of integrity and good will. The “best” objective of man’s desire is the “greatest good” which can further be qualified with these words in their superlative, most advantageous, beneficial, humane, benevolent and gracious. In this final part, are the particular or objective dispositions that are essential for the individual in enabling him to achieve the exposure to optimism. There are ten ways to realize the “greatest good” in life.

[1] POSITIVE IDEAS.

 A mind bankrupt positive idea, Prowls through life with pessimism. The creation of positive ideas, their understanding and meaning makes an optimist and a paragon of virtue. One underlying positive idea is “faith in the goodness of life.” Nothing is more important to man than the character of positive thoughts. Our thoughts are our destiny. There is need therefore to cultivate a positive attitude of mind.

[2] HARMONY IN CO-EXISTENCE

We all love the natural harmony that exists in musical chords. Nature ordains man and woman to co-exist while desiring “the belt” not only for each other but also for their children. The natural harmony that exists in the family stretches out naturally to all human relationship as an endeavor to constitute harmony in the global family.

[3] FOCUS THE MIND ON SUCCESS NOT FAILURE

 Man creates a purpose of meaning for his life and endeavors to achieve that purpose. Our hearts are restless until we realize success in out aspirations and ideals.

[4] TUNE THE MIND IN DOING THE RIGHT

 The right action is the object of “the desired good.” Hence, the values that we cherish, underlined in our ethos, mores and norms determine what the right action and what be the good to be realized. What be the good comes in the form of positive ideas, words and actions.

[5] DIFFICULTIES AND HARDSHIPS

These constitute an integral and obvious part of human life. It is an absolute exigency and demand of duty to grapple with them, for in so doing, one is able to achieve one’s purpose and objective in life. The good must triumph over evil.

[6] FORGIVENESS

 The evil is a reality to be experienced in the world. Man will deliberately do evil to their fellowmen.  The omission of the good. Revenge is not the solution to redress the evil done. Forgive. But the evil doers are persistence! Forgive. In the meanwhile appeal for justice to take its natural course. Never forget though that the evil that men do I intertwined with their bones in the grave.

[7] PERSONAL CONSCIENCE

  A person’s integrity is essentially determined by his personal conscience. Understanding your personal conscience is important in disposing self to optimism. Advisingly, the “examination of conscience” is highly recommended to ascertain conformity to the ethical standards.

[FREEDOM]

One universal law of man is freedom. Man has the power, independently of God to make the choice of ideas, words and actions that give hope, confidence and success to achieve “the best” in life. The choices that one makes gives one the direction or the leeway that reveals the meaning that one wants to give to his personal life

[a]GRATITUDE

The pessimist says, “I never asked to be born.” Existence is a wonderful gift of the Mother Nature. The goodness of life is a blessing. Man has to cultivate a conscious sense of gratitude or thankfulness for the boon of life. Gratitude is a “condition sine qua non” for the entry into the kingdom of happiness and good will.

[10] DIVINE SMILE

 Optimism underlines man’s destiny. The enrichment of the heart with happiness on this beautiful earth. In his four decades of reign, Muammar Gaddafi never wore a smile on his face. He lived in dreary pessimism. A smile, divine in nature, reveals the inner self, the kingdom of happiness. The smile is an external indication that one has the habit of looking at the bright side of things. And this is optimism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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