Optimism, Pessimism, Hope and Expectations
Iâ€™d like to share with you some thoughts of mineâ€”I should say â€śopinionsâ€ťâ€”about optimism, pessimism, hope, and expectations. And maybe we can throw in vowâ€”no, I think thatâ€™s a whole other subject.
So, Iâ€™m not very optimistic. And Iâ€™m not very pessimistic. I have a lot of hope, and hardly any expectations. Expectations pop up all the time. And I have to admit that even though I feel we shouldnâ€™t have expectations, I have them all the time. And one of the signs of having expectations is that I get frustrated. I think expectations inevitably lead to frustration.
I define hope as basically hoping that something will happen, therefore working as hard as I can to make that thing happen. And having goalsâ€”for example, when I started to work in Yonkers and homelessness, I said, â€śweâ€™re gonna end homelessness.â€ť That was my hopeâ€”in Yonkers, in Westchester. That was my hope. But I had no expectationâ€”therefore, I wasnâ€™t frustratedâ€”although we did reduce homelessness by 75 percent over the years. But we worked as hard as we could, and what happened is what happened.
It reminds of a time when we were working in the Middle East. And many groups were working in the Middle East. And there was a period around the year 2000 where everybody thought there would be peace. It was so close. Between the Israelis and the Palestiniansâ€”it was so close. And then, it all fell apart. And there were so many different groups working for peaceâ€”both on the Palestinian side and the Israeli side. And most of those groups fell apart. And they fell apart because of frustration. Their expectation was so high. And it didnâ€™t happen. And the frustration became unbearable, and the groups fell apart. Those groups that continued, in my opinion, basically were working for peace because thatâ€™s what you should do. They didnâ€™t have any expectations, even though it was so close. They had a lot of hope. And they worked very hard. But because there were no expectations, there were minimal frustrations. And they could continue working.
So that leads me to optimism and pessimism. I tend toâ€”in my opinionâ€”I do fairly good at leading my life based on what is happening.Â That is, Iâ€™m not optimistic that somethingâ€™s going to occur. And Iâ€™m not pessimistic that it wonâ€™t occur. I feel optimism and pessimism in a way is like expectations. It creates frustration.
I try to live according to the three tenets of the Zen Peacemakers. That is, to approach everything without anyâ€”without holding on to any idea of what should happen, or what might happen, or in that way. And to try to bear witness to whatâ€™s going on. That is to be in the momentâ€”to try to be in the moment.Â And then let whatever comes up come up.
So, no optimism, no pessimism, just being here nowâ€”do the best I can. Thatâ€™s my opinion, man.
January 17, 2018
Pearls of Ash and Awe: Kathleen Battke on Collecting Testimonials from Two Decades of Auschwitz-Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats
December 06, 2017
November 21, 2017