Intelligent Optimism

Opinion — By on September 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm


Some of our Sixth Formers visited the the “Open Diversity: Intelligent Optimism” workshop on 16 Sept at the Shelter led by Rama A. Chakaki.  The forum explored the impact of positive news, the medium to deliver it effectively and the means to scale it to make it impactful.  Here’s Tannya’s take on it:

By Tannya Jajal, 19 Sept 2012

Why is it that so many people are skeptical about the concept of there being any “good” in the world? Why is it that people’s minds are constantly marred by negativity and the lack of hope? Well, there’s only one answer to these questions: mainstream media.

If you just think about it for a second, you’ll realize that a vast majority of newspaper front-page stories are scattered with negative news; news that makes the world and all of humanity appear sinister. However, what most people fail to see is that the media has embedded the minds of the mass with this sort of news purely due to one, simple reason: negativity sells. But does that mean that we blindly believe that the so-called balance scales dip constantly towards the negative?

It is the use of the term “blind” that brings me to what I’m essentially conveying. Optimists are sometimes considered to be those people who look beyond and above reality; the ones that live in their own little fairly tale world where everything ultimately leads to a happy ending. Well, I can’t guarantee you your happy ending, but what I do know for a fact, is that this idea of optimism can be embraced in an intellectual way that goes way beyond the claims of the skeptic-if only, we learn to draw the distinct line between blind and informed optimism.

It was this enlivening idea of viewing the glass as half full based on complete and total reason that lead a number of my schoolmates and I to a mind-blowing workshop at the Shelter Warehouse in a quiet area of Dubai on the 16th of September.  The workshop was engaging, interactive, and brimmed with passion: adults and students alike connected, conjuring a magically positive air of intellect. The key speaker of the workshop, Zeenat Barakat, managed to weave past even the most questioning of us with her sheer passion and rational claims, leaving all of us beyond invigorated.

As she kept pointing out, and much to the dismay of many of us present there, mainstream media fails to throw light upon the positivity of the human race. There is SO much more to be excited about than that which meets the naked eye. The rate that we’re progressing at is, for lack of a better word, remarkable.  All around us, people perform small acts of charity and kindness that constantly reprimand this ideology of a world that’s “oh-so-violent”.  The only problem is that little to no people out there actually acknowledge this reality.

As we sat there, united by the overwhelming affect of hope, I couldn’t help but wonder what we, as the youth, could do to make an impactful change. See, it’s the well informed mind that can come to a sound conclusion of what the future might just be like. For this, it’s essential that we strike that balance between the good and the bad. It’s essential that we pull the good (shunned) news out of its dark little corners and leave it out in the open the same way negativity is portrayed. Imagine if people were made aware of the exalting realities of the world, rather than being so easily manipulated by the constant overflow of negativity. They claim that optimism is attributed with the simple minded: well, so is naivety!

Being an intelligent optimist means being well informed on the whole about all the happenings of the world. Naturally, the person whose eyes see and read only the negativity would envision a future of doom. As the ever so passionate speaker kept pointing out to us, there are a number of magazines out there that focus on the positive aspects of life. As she spoke, all I thought of doing was in some way creating that awareness by extracting these facts from the underground and engrafting them into the mainstream.

To put it simply and directly; I left the Shelter inspired. And I know my friends did too. If one brief session could change the minds of even the most skeptic amongst us and so strongly connect the audience together by the idea of a promising future, then surely we can do more to reach out to the mass of the youth and older generations alike. Surely, we can make them aware of the fact that optimism can be adopted in an intellectually stimulating manner. Surely, they too, should know just how desirable the future is. The best part if all is that with the ever rising wave of technology, we have the resources and the influence to cause an enormous change of mindset. So, let’s do what we do best. Inspire. Enliven. Revolutionize.




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