Hope and Optimism

If there is hope in the future, there power in the present.
–Zig Ziglar quoting John Maxwell

At the recommendation of a serial entrepreneur, I picked up Helen Keller’s collection of essays, “The World I Live In & Optimism.” Early in my bibliomania I read HK’s story repeatedly, marveling at how this world of darkness she lived in exploded into brightness, comprehension.

Annie Sullivan, her teacher and eventual friend and companion, “went out to the pump-house, and … made Helen hold her mug under the spout while [she] pumped. As the cold water gushed forth, filling the mug, [she] spelled “w-a-t-e-r” in Helen’s free hand. The word coming so close upon the sensation of cold water rushing over her hand seemed to startle her. She dropped the mug and stood as one transfixed. A new light came into her face.”

Scrolling through the news we have every reason to lose hope: modern slavery, sex trafficking, wide spread obesity, climbing U.S. suicide rates, and terrorist attacks. Sobering news, if not cause for despair. In my own circles, despite hyper-vigilance over their pocket books people are working harder while losing traction. And this list just pertains to the human race.

As for the rest of creation, what about industrial farming, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, loss of wetland habitatnano plastic pollution (this is a new one for me), noise pollution, and light pollution to name a few?

Hope is not a blithe, vacant stare off towards Never Land. Hope of the faith-, hope- and love-ilk is an anxious expectation. We hope knowing persistent prayer and active perseverance triumphs. HK’s optimism distrusts the rash who cry out “Hurrah!” without acknowledging grievances needing redress, but believes in an optimist who understands evil, is acquainted with sorrow, and yet persists.

HK paraphrasing John Richard Green, writes that “the world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker…”

My optimism looks back through history: a litany of what humans got right and what is yet to be done. My hope looks forward to the future: what tiny pushes do I want to make before my shift on earth ends?

In my first year in pharmaceutical sales my manager provided two scenarios for success: one, do 100 things 1% better than the competition; or two, do one thing 100% better than the competition. Both strategies worked so long as the sales representative remained committed.

Dear readers, whether we choose one cause and dedicate ourselves fully or pick several causes to which we make our tiny pushes does not matter — so long as we choose to press on. One generation past my death and history will no longer remember my name. My hope, my optimism, brightens toward a safer, healthier future because of the tiny pushes I along with so many make today.

What is your tiny push?


  1. You know Scyller I think your writing is beautiful. You have a gift from above. You have the ability to communicate real hope and make people decide to go for what is good and right. And I think all those tiny little pushes you mention can turn out in the end to be huge game changers for good things to happen. It’s kind of like the butterfly effect in non-linear mathematics. Thank you for posting your thoughts.


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