SAFEGUARD YOUR OPTIMISTIC SPIRIT
Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” So which one are you?
Personally, I would like to look at myself as an optimist, and an incurable one at that. What about the bad news on TV everyday? Don’t they weigh you down? That’s the trouble with watching TV first thing in the morning. A lot of us, my own household included, have developed this habit of turning on the TV early in the morning everyday. At times, the series of bad news become the background noise as we brush our teeth, make coffee, prepare breakfast or get dressed for work. We might not be very conscious about this, but have you heard about the last-song-heard syndrome? With this routine, we’d definitely get the last-bad-news-heard syndrome for the rest of the day. Now, I don’t think it would take an expert to realize how these kind of news can dampen one’s optimism.
Terrorism, corruption, drug-related killings… how do these issues affect you? It breaks my heart too, but I learned how not to let this get in my way of creating a bright and hope-filled day for myself and for the people I come in contact with everyday. This is not some form of anesthetic to shield myself and the ones I care about from the pain of everyday reality; this is simply a willful act of refusing to allow negativity to control my emotions and actions.
These unpleasant, oftentimes gruesome events are, whether we like it or not, part of our everyday reality but I believe we still have a choice of either allowing these things to affect us negatively or to push us even further towards our purpose of achieving a better life for ourselves and for the future generation. Sounds big. Let’s start small.
FOR EVERY BAD NEWS, LOOK FOR THE GOOD NEWS
Let me begin by choosing to use these issues to inspire me further to pursue a better life and a better world. Since I became an optimist (yes, I used to be a pig-headed cynic who spent more time studying the theory of evolution – to no avail – than studying my high school subjects, who loved Marilyn Manson and hated small kids), I made it a point to consciously look within my community for a reason to hope each time I hear bad news on TV, on the radio or from the town’s busybody. Lately, for instance, people have been killed in separate incidents within our community and while the killers’ motives are unclear, people say it’s related to the selling of prohibited drugs. Willfully, I shifted my attention to the positive things that go on in our community and by doing this I saw how good God still is and how quietly He works in the many good men in our society today.
I say many because this is the truth. The bad guys only seem enumerable because the media sometimes has this bad habit of spreading their feats more than they should the heroic acts of our everyday heroes. And we, citizens, sometimes have this bad habit of listening to these news, too. So who are these good men and what are they doing? In the quiet Philippine province of Bukidnon, for instance, in the town of Maramag, their Town Mayor, Hon. Jose V. Obedencio, strengthened the Municipal Council Against Drug Abuse and is currently deploying a team to promote understanding and awareness on the devastating effects of prohibited drugs among parents and the youth. Although not everyone is very appreciative and enthusiastic of programs like this, thinking, “Nah, it’s just a waste of time and resources (pessimist),” I strongly believe people will, one way or another, soon ‘hear’ the message and get tired of dwelling in the negative (optimist). The council also has among its members and team of speakers a young police officer who is proud to declare that he lives a healthy lifestyle and loves his wife and kids. Isn’t that wonderful news?
Let’s move closer to the country’s capital. In Manila they have plenty of do-gooders, most of them working quietly behind the scenes, but I would like to name one of my favorites, Bro. Bo Sanchez a.k.a. the Preacher in Blue Jeans. This charismatic preacher is also an entrepreneur and has founded several organizations that provide shelter for the abandoned elderly, homeless and often hopeless kids and also send less fortunate children to school. In my hometown in Quezon, in the province of Bukidnon, a handful of Bo Sanchezes are blessing their neighbors with their philanthropic acts, too. They are working hard to grow their business in order to generate more jobs for the people within the community, encourage fellow businessmen to invest in the municipality, work closely with the Local School Board and provide scholarships to children whose parents could hardly send their kids to school. I’m fortunate to have lived with one these philanthropists (and have been one of his scholars) and so occasionally, I would see on his desk at his office back home a “thank you” note from people we haven’t even met, saying they’ve passed the board exam or graduated with honors.
Young people in the working class, on the other hand, are joining clubs and organizations that work for the benefit of the community. Every month they meet to talk about how they can extend help to the needy – they give away books and school supplies to children in public schools, organize medical missions and feeding programs and many more. These are the people who don’t wait until they get rich before they can share what little blessings they now have. These are the people who learned to redefine their wealth.
WE HAVE ALL THE REASONS TO HOPE
If only more and more people in our local community would work towards the direction of their dreams, be fearless enough to think big whilst starting small, and develop the habit of sharing their blessings, I believe these philanthropists would grow in number and thereby provide more job opportunities and send more and more children to school.
These people are among our very best reasons to keep hoping. In times when negativity and bad news overwhelm us, let us try to shift our attention to them and the good deeds they are doing. Negativity dissipates our energy and dampens our enthusiasm; it steals away the joy in our hearts.
The great political leader and peace advocate, Mahatma Gandhi, once said, “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Just because there are corrupt politicians doesn’t mean all politicians are. There are good leaders in our midst today and if we continue to nurture the spirit of optimism in each one of us, these leaders will grow in number.
The seed of God’s Kingdom has been sown, which “indeed is the least of all the seed; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matthew 13:32) And as it was written, as Jesus Himself said it, it will certainly grow. It is growing as I write this blog, and as the angel Gabriel said it, “No word from God will ever fail.”
You are most welcome to share good news and messages of hope from your own community in the comments section below.