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Pessimist, optimist, or realist?

Pessimist, optimist, or realist?

One tulip in bud – citing reported April 1 in Nova Scotia (no, not an April Fool’s joke).

Thawed ground under the snow – reported April 4 in Halifax. This should come as no surprise, since snow is a great insulator and all that natural ground heat is trapped under the snow.

And now the birds have started singing, so we’re keeping up the bird feeding every day until the snow melts.

tulip bud

This got me thinking about hope, and the pessimistic or optimistic view that we humans tend to have.

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane; the pessimist, the parachute.” — George Bernard Shaw

I like another term – realism. It’s a blend of pessimism and optimism – seeing clearly what’s wrong, combined with the ability to experience hope and envision possibility.

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” – William Arthur Ward

This resonates with the history of community development. It used to be that outsiders would come into a community , identify problems and needs, and try to fix what was wrong – a pessimistic approach. Then there was a swing towards an asset-based approach, such that a community’s strengths and resources were identified and mapped – an optimistic approach – but the problems still persisted.

Now we’re in a phase of community development that draws on local residents to identify improvements they want to make to achieve the kind of community they want, identify barriers as well as strengths and resources, both within and from outside the community, and take action to effect change.

What about you? Are you pessimistic because there’s only one tulip, optimistic because the ground is thawed, or do you realistically recognize that the snow has to melt, knowing with confidence that spring is on the way as you order seeds and plants in readiness.

(Thank you to John Paul Caponigro for his collection of quotations.)

  • Claudia
    Posted at 00:29h, 20 October

    This article is really cool. I have bookmarked it.