Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Attack of the Killer Pessimists

"No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. " ... Helen Keller

There have been years and times in my life when I've sat and talked with The Pessimists Amongst Us. Have you ever done that? It's quite a scary thing because T.P.A.U. delight in discovering what is wrong with everything in Life. They may frown and appear sour on the outside as they sit across the table from you (or whisper to you from Blogland), but on the inside, they are giddy with negativity. They are proud of their expertise at being able to decipher, immediately, why some plan, some invention, some happy person will fail. They revel in 'being realistic' and they quote from the front page of the newspaper as though it was their Bible (and often, it is).

They have seen the future--and it is dark.

You can try to cheer them up, but good luck. You point out the possibility that something good may come out of something bad (Romans 8:28), but they just shake their head, and either they play the, "I'm older and wiser than you, kid," card or else end the conversation with a pitying smile and a, "Okay, believe that if it makes you happy." Then, if their dire predictions later come to pass, they are pleased as proverbial punch to tell you, "I told you so."

There's a certain feeling I get around people like that. My hand automatically goes to my throat, (perhaps to figuratively stop my inner hope and optimism from escaping through my mouth from my heart), and my eyes start searching for a door of escape. After I've valiantly, yet needlessly, played all my, "Look on the bright side" cards and said what I believed God wanted me to say, all that comes to me at that point is something like, "Beam me up, Scotty! Get me out of here before my brain is pecked and attacked by this horrible, negative disease."

Why is that feeling so strong for me? Because there was a sorry time in my life when I, too, was a pessimist... I, too, sat across tables from people who suddenly jumped up with excuses why they had to leave earlier than they'd planned. And so maybe now, it's rather like why a former alcoholic, if he's wise, no longer hangs out at bars or keeps liquor in the house... or why a recovering food addict clears the cupboards of Twinkies or potato chips... or why someone who has quit smoking no longer carries a purse full of cigarettes.

What's wrong with being a pessimist? Because this post is getting long, I'll just answer that with a little something Jesus said:

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation: but cheer up! I have overcome the world."... John 16:33

"Do you know what a pessimist is? A man who thinks everybody as nasty as himself, and hates them for it."
- George Bernard Shaw

"Every pessimist who ever lived has been buried in an unmarked grave. Tomorrow has always been better than today, and it always will be."
- Paul Harvey

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