I get depressed about the state of the world, no doubt. That some people don't have water and some people don't have food and the Antarctic ice shelf is about to break off (thanks, Dad, for the link). Plus, my kind readers email me just about every piece of bad news the internet can muster (I'm not asking you to stop, by the way, I appreciate it).
But a bunch of years ago I went to a course at the Esalen Institute with some guru or another. The one thing I remember from the course is that we must always remember to keep ourselves from getting overwhelmed by looking for the good in the bad and the bad in the good. The guru used an example of seeing the beautiful rainbows of color reflected in an oil slick.
So when I think of catastrophes, I try to think about all the wonderful people who are trying, against all odds, to help. When I wonder where God is in the horrible mess, I try to think that he/she/it resides in their hearts.
I'm thinking of all this right now, because I just got an email from Alex Steffan, editor of the wonderful book and website WorldChanging. He sent me a post he'd written about the politics of optimism (I wrote a not dissimilar post about how optimism is the most radical political act there is a while back, too).
Alex's article is full of hope and idealism and blind faith in the human spirit all wrapped up in a thin veneer of sophisticated writing and political understanding. But mostly it is a call to all of us to have more vision and more imagination about how extraordinary we could be.
Though I don't know Alex except by email, judging by the volume of work he produces, he works his butt off to help inspire us and change our minds. So tonight, I am combating the despair by thinking of the God in Alex Steffan's heart and looking at him as today's little bit of good in the bad, today's rainbow in the oil slick.
PS That's Alex in the picture. I like his eyes, don't you?