Jewish World Review Jan. 5, 2004 / 11 Teves, 5764
2003 The year of the optimist
http://www.jewishworldreview.com | This is the time of year journalists begin comprising their list of big events. The stories that shaped our lives and the individuals who shaped those stories over the past year.
I'm not really big into lists. I have a hard enough time remembering what I had for breakfast. I am big into big picture things; sometimes dopey things, but for me, meaningful things.
When I look back on 2003, I will remember not just a war or a captured tyrant, I will remember a theme. For my money, in my mind, and in my heart, this was the year of the optimist. He triumphed.
He triumphed over those who thought we'd only see more bad news, who suspected the worst, when he hoped for the best.
He saw a stock market that had piled up three years of losses and concluded that it was due one year of gain. He was right.
He saw a war in Iraq that claimed too many American lives but saw the greater good of their sacrifice. He was right.
He saw the tyranny of a dictator named Saddam, who some said we should leave well enough alone, and the benefit of removing that dictator, when no one thought we could. And he was right.
He was not prescient enough to know when we would find Saddam, only that we would. And he was right.
He was silly enough to think America meant it when it said it would hunt down terrorists. And he was right.
He was confident enough to know crooked CEOs would be chased down, but they wouldn't drag down all the CEOs who weren't crooked. And he was right.
He was naive enough to believe a mutual fund scandal affecting some well-known names didn't mean it was an indictment of all names. And he was right.
He was Yankee Doodle Dandy enough to sing his country's praises and know its potential, rather than debate its merits, and suspect its motives. And he was right.
He was right about America's best qualities outshining its worst.
He was right to believe America was right, and that evil was wrong.
He was right to believe giving people their money back would help this economy come back.
He was right to smile, looking forward to the future, when pessimists around him moaned and complained about the future.
He saw a world where freedom rang and evil bowed, where good people didn't forget bad deeds, and wouldn't forget bad days, like Sept. 11.
He knew that the sum of our hopes trumped the sum of our fears; that the greatest generation would be very proud of the next generation and the next generation after that.
He saw a world of hurt, and was foolish enough to see a world of hope.
He was not naive enough to forget the pain; just eager enough to see the gain.
Because markets do go up. Economies do improve. People do spend. And despots do fall.
Pessimists refuse to see the good because they're so focused on the bad.
Optimists know the bad, but refuse to ignore the good.
The latter made all the difference this past year . . . not by promising cheap cheer to those who couldn't see it. But by knowing there was something to cheer in the first place, if only pessimists took the time to see it.
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12/22/03: Nothing succeeds . . . like success