Wednesday 15 May 2024

To be positive and hope-full - but not delusionally optimistic: The challenge of these times

In this time and place, it is my understanding that people have painted-themselves-into-a-corner by their fundamental assumptions - and I include most Christians in this criticism. 

This is, in a sense, unfortunate - or at least hazardous - because it means that a good deal of negativity is required when it comes to the negativity (and indeed nihilism) which our civilization, culture, and most people has incorporated as the basis of our world view. 

So there nearly-always needs to be a good deal of demolition of despair-tending ideas and ideals - and this negativity can itself become a habit, a mind-set; whereas it ought to be merely a swiftly transcended preliminary phase, prior to embarking on a positive and hopeful life. 

We cannot live spiritually on the basis of double-negativity. Especially not modern Men who spontaneously tend towards alienation, cut-offness: the assumption that the world is purposeless, meaningless and indifferent. 

Because we cannot live spiritually in opposition, not even in opposition to evil. 

In order that we have "something to look forward to"; there is a temptation to worldly-optimism, or even to spiritual optimism - "optimism" being here defined as the belief that things Will get better - that our mortal lives will be better, that we are on a path of spiritual progression.

(Such optimism is the basis of the vast industry of self-help. And much that presents itself as self-help, as ways to a better life or world, is - in fact - a dishonest species of would-be careerism.) 

Optimism just-is delusional in this entropic and evil-ruled world - and leads not to a better world, but to systemic distortion and denial of realities.

(e.g. The distortion of being optimistic about what are actually evils - but presented as a path to Good. e.g. The denial of things going-nowhere or getting worse, by constant hyping, spinning and propaganda about minor and insignificant triumphs.)  

Yet, if optimism is excluded, but positivity demanded; then there are ways ahead; ways of approaching your actual life that focus on the spiritual and the eternal - and do not require anything resembling incremental and cumulative progress or long-term improvement. 

Indeed; I think that circumstances (as well as divine communications) tend to guide us towards exactly what is actually attainable - towards that which we our-selves can do, regardless of what other people are doing.

What has been taken-away on the one hand; is a gift on the other. 

The spiritual temptations of worldliness and expectations of increasing health, wealth, pleasure, social status are (realistically) eliminated; such that autonomous agency is is laid bare. 

That which is necessary and good is also, increasingly, the only viable possibility!

In sum: we can choose to be realistically-positive and hope-full, about a situation in which we cannot (in honesty, as Christians) be optimistic. 


Laeth said...

I've noticed that the worldly-triumphalist christians (the ones who think it is not only possible, but a good idea to have a theocracy now) are precisely, and in general, joy-less. in fact, they seem to be against en-joy-ment. I suppose because they cannot take the little wins, the good and beauty and truth that are indeed small in our world (and sometimes only applicable to each of us individually) but are of eternal value. I suppose it is because they believe in some kind of symmetry between good and evil, but there is no symmetry at all: good can lose every battle to evil and still be the winning side.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Laeth - There is a kind of "joy" (actually lust) in domination and spiteful harm!

My understanding of the kind of thing, is that it derived from the double-negative focus I have so often (ad nauseam!) described - I mean a religion or ideology that is ultimately oppositional.

For Christians such is oppositional to (e.g.) hell, heresy, false-theology, false hierarchy etc.

Of course *lip-service* is paid to (real) joy, love, creation, spiritual-freedom and other positives - but... nobody is fooled!

Loathing, fear, resentment &c... these are the real, strong, motivators for such persons.

Joanne said...

Bruce, Have you read Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' "The Politics of Hope?" It's all about optimism. Rabbi Sacks was a prophet. Keep the faith, Joanne Blakemore, Akron, Ohio

Bruce Charlton said...

@Joanne - No I haven't read it. At one point I respected and praised Sacks, because he held to several unpopular but true views. However, I now regard myself as mistaken.

Sack failed many significant litmus tests (loudly and utterly *wrong* about the birdemic, for example), fudged and pandered to leftism; and fell into more and more obvious worldlyness. Soon he became a thoroughly mainstream-compatible figure - and was well rewarded for it with status and praise from the administrators of the evil agenda.

He was eventually made a Baron (i.e. a high-up type of Lord)... This simply does not happen nowadays, except to loyal servants of Establishment strategies.