The Duty of Being Optimistic
October 2012

When I was younger, my unflappable optimism about the future was perceived as naïve. They used to tell me "you'll see, in real life, things aren't quite like that." I'm older now, but I have yet to be cured of my optimism. I still prefer to bet on the horse that I think is the best - even if it doesn't always end up winning. It's simple: I thrive on the energy the best scenario can provide. Doctor, am I still naïve, even at my age?

Well, for all those killjoys out there, I've realized that the older I get the more I believe that optimism is a duty. Naturally, we need to see reality for what it actually is. Climate changes, economic recessions, the despair of the underprivileged; it's important to acknowledge that all this exists. But how can we not imagine a winning scenario when resolving an impasse? How can a plan of action be developed without already having the ideal situation in mind? Isn't that the first step of any strategy: To first visualize the situation that we wish to achieve in the future? In this respect, we all have a duty to be optimistic, especially for future generations. We are responsible for imagining and for developing visions of the future that hold promise. We cannot simply present disaster scenarios.

We can all agree that today's true enemy is individualism. Exacerbated, individualism is transformed into a 'wet blanket'. It weakens people by feeding this pernicious sentiment of powerlessness that can sometimes be overwhelming. "This is all very sad, but I can't do anything about it," is something we say to ourselves all too often. The issue is certainly too global for a single person! But we, as a whole, must meet the huge challenges of the postmodern era. We live in a complex world where everything is interdependent, where one cannot be without the other. Everything we do and all of our gestures, big or small, alter the final result in some way or another. There are endless possibilities available to us. We need to believe in this. Imagine for a moment that we can work together and develop a single and united vision for the future. Imagine how empowered we would be! What amazing scenarios could be possible! As the song says - nothing for nothing and the rest is for free - to bestow a future that lives up to our aspirations we will need to learn to cooperate more. Humanity is at a crossroads and it needs to know where it stands. Why did we bother going to the Moon, why search for traces of life on Mars if we can't even take care of our own home and those that fate has assigned to us as roommates? This is the real issue of sustainable development. To develop, yes, but to evolve as a whole with each one of us doing our part to care for our home. It is possible. And in this scenario, cooperatives play a great role. They are an amazing vehicle for people who wish to act as one, to create wealth, to live a good life and to pay it forward.

With hindsight and a few wrinkles, I tell myself that optimism does indeed flirt with being naïve, but it also proceeds with some wisdom. By channelling positive energy, optimism joins together the best conditions to lead extensive projects to fruition. It mobilizes, empowers, and drives to action. I believe that optimism is a pragmatic attitude and a duty of solidarity that we need to cultivate. And I dream that future generations, when reading the history of the start of the 21st century, might say, as Mark Twain once said with touch of humour: "They did not know it was impossible, so they did it."


Colette Lebel, agr.
Director Cooperative Affairs
and Board Secretary Assistant
La Coop fédérée
Fax: 514 850-2567


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