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Corvida Raven

Community Catalyst, TED Conferences


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Are you optimistic or pessimistic, and why?

Yesterday, during Session 2 of TED University at TEDGlobal 2011, host June Cohen asked: Are you optimistic or pessimistic. and why? and asked for answers of one sentence.

Since there is a little more room (and time) for writing on TED Conversations, answer in 1-3 sentences whether you are optimistic or pessimistic, and why.


Closing Statement from Corvida Raven

Thank you all for your responses! This was a great Conversation. The TED team is happy to know that the majority of our audience has a relatively positive outlooks on life. We appreciate your participation everyone!

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    Jul 20 2011: It's all about the journey not the destination.
  • Jul 17 2011: i'm optimistic about the end of the human race!!
    because then this incredible amazing world will have a chance to repair the damage we have done and are still doing.
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      Jul 17 2011: Sharon,

      Do you believe that there is a limit to how much damage earth can take before it becomes irreparable? If not, we don't have to rush it right?
      • Jul 17 2011: If we get down into the chemistry, its all just atoms, so really none of it matters right?
        hydrogen atom here, carbon atom there....

        This planet will be around long after we humans have gone, the state we leave it in is questionable at this point, its not looking good, for any forms of life,because, unfortunately as well as being in a rush to poison ourselves to death we are killing the rest of the amazing biodiversity with us.

        Humans have this funny idea that they are in control, rather than a part of a bigger system of cosmic events, its inevitable that we will go extinct, and the planet will change into something else, time does not exist, being in a rush or not -is irrelevant for the fate of the human race.
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          Jul 18 2011: There was a book written recently about nature's ability to repair itself. (Can't quite remember what the title was - saw the author interviewed on The Daily Show).

          An example he gave was that if humans abandoned NYC and left it to nature, it would take relatively little time for nature to take back the land. Nature is the most powerful thing on this planet. Unless or until earth is obliterated by something celestial,I think humans will continue to evolve as a species, staying one step ahead of disaster, and become one with nature again but in a way we can't even imagine.
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          Jul 18 2011: "This planet will be around long after we humans have gone"

          George Carlin says the exact same sentence in one of his shows!

          You're right, it's we that will be going away, not the planet.
        • Jul 19 2011: Yes, humans will go extinct if nothing is being done now to reverse the damages humans caused to this earth. I think the earth will collapse first before humans if we continue to excavate all the earth minerals like oil, gold etc and trees chopped down for more developments causing the earth to be very imbalance and "feverish". The premature ending of the world is mostly caused by errors & negligence of humans.
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      Jul 17 2011: I would like to see us humans repairing some of the damage we've done RIGHT NOW!
      • Jul 17 2011: That said,
        I am also optimistic about the RIGHT NOW, I just wish more people understood what right now means. Colleen i'm interested, how are you helping to repair damage, or stop further damage in your life.
        Lets start waking people up to the right now.....
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          Jul 17 2011: Hi Sharon,
          If you scroll down in this thread, I've mentioned in another comment, some of the things I've done to help change our world.

          That said, this is the little space I occupy in my tiny part of the world:>) I grow my own food, herbs, flowers, tropicals, etc., creating a peaceful, sustainable environment, which is open to the public:>) I give LOTS of plants away and have created several "garden addicts", while hopefully educating people
        • Jul 18 2011: The Past is gone the Future might not come so all we really have are tiny segments of RIGHT NOW. There goes another one and another one...
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          Jul 18 2011: I agree Stephen...the past is gone by...the future is not yet a reality...the only moment we have is NOW.
        • Jul 18 2011: I think when we talk about the future; it means we should prepare ourselves enough to just take the physical decision in the moment of NOW.
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        Jul 19 2011: Colleen. Wow. Thanks for sharing such beautiful pics and a view into your world.
        Gene Evangelist
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    Jul 16 2011: I think it depends on personality. In general, for some optimism works better and for some pessimism . But I guess if one is far too optimistic or pessimistic, that does do any good.
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    Jul 16 2011: Hi Colleen,

    I appreciate you comments and full explanations.And I would also like to thank to you for your individual contributions simply to make the life more livable for those who are not as lucky as the rest in terms of what they are given in their life.
    I have long been helping to the kids with from the poor families usually around me with their lessons.Although this is what I do for living, I am careful not to charge for my services for those who can not spare a cent extra for their educational improvement.I always call this a very modest action but I also believe if we who have anything to pass the others should do it regardless of any excuses.
    I am glad to have such a share with you that makes the whole point meaningful
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      Jul 16 2011: Hi Harun,
      I'm thankful to have this opportunity to share with you as well. The question you asked is a good one..."Is there suffiicent action" to change those situations in our world that are not desirable? Sometimes, it feels overwelming when we look at the big picture. I try to be aware of everything that is happening in our world, and with my optimism, focus on the very tiny changes I may be contributing to. I agree that if we have anything to share with others, it is important to do so. With our small actions, we not only help others, but we help ourselves as well, because we are all connected...in my humble opinion. I am glad to hear you are teaching children, because they are our future, and there is a great opportunity with children to help change destructive patterns in our world. Thank you for what you do, and I am optimistic that you are contributing a LOT by helping to educate children.
    • Jul 18 2011: hey Harun,
      would love more info on where you work and what exactly you are doing.
      I'm finding as many activists around the globe as I can to try to connect them and works with them on our common goals...
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    Jul 16 2011: Optimist.
    Everything will work itself out in the end.
    If it hasn't yet, it's not the end.
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      Jul 16 2011: "It's not the end". I love it!
    • Jul 16 2011: Unfortunately there are a lot of things that end badly but nice little statement sir.
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    Jul 15 2011: Definitely Optimistic, Why? Because it works way better than pessimism. If we are going to change the world, then how on earth can we afford to be pessimistic. Optimism just works way better than pessimism.
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    Jul 15 2011: I am going to beat around the bush rather than simply saying `I am optimistic` or `I am pessimistic`. As I say so, I feel like I have got my many reasons.Allow me to put them in an order combined with question marks:-As we all are aware of the wars going on in many countries, can we still be optimistic about the world`s future?-Global warming? Climate change? Disappearing of many species? Do we have right to consume the future`s generations` right to live in a friendly envoronment in all conditions? Or sould we just turn a blind eye on what is really going on and call ourselves optimistic?-Can anyone tell me that the latest natural disasters cannot be related to the damage we have done to the mother nature simply for the sake of power and money in particular? Still optimistic??/-Why do all those big chaps gather in summits and always try to fool us with the title of the summits: "Kyoto Protocol", " Copenhagen Climate Conference", "United Nations Millennium Development Goals",so on and on..As the space is is limited here, let me ask a very simple question.Are we just trying to be optimistic about our personal issues? Then what do we do when the whole world with its all serious problems are concerned? And here is the whole point:Pessimistic when ethics interfere in our believes lives and habits,etc. and optimistic when helpless..
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      Jul 15 2011: Dear Harun,
      You bring up some good points. Being optimistic to me does NOT mean to "just turn a blind eye on what is really going on...". It means being part of the solutions to the challenges we face in our world today. As I said in a comment below, optimists generally are looking for solutions, and what we focus on expands. When we focus on all the "serious problems", we give the problems energy to exist. When we can evaluate the challenges with a heart and mind leaning toward solutions, that is what we may create:>)
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        Jul 15 2011: I am very Ok with the idea of being the part of the solutions but does everyone really mean when he/she says he/she is optimistic...As far as I am concerned when there is a challenge ahead of us then we examine our ability, motivation,energy and time altogether in order to deal with it.and if we feel we can over come to the so called challenge then we feel that we are optimistic.because we see a light in the end of the tunnel...enough action and we are happy...but let`s have another look at the points I have mentioned before...is there sufficent action??
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          Jul 15 2011: Hi Harun,
          I cannot speak for everyone...we can only speak for ourselves as individuals, don't you think? I agree with you that it is up to each of us as individuals to examine our ability, motivation, energy and time, in order to deal with challenges. You ask..."is there sufficent action"??

          Personally, I've volunteered my time, ability, motivation and energy, working in a shelter for women and children and a family center, working with incarcerated offenders, working with children in state custody because of being abused in their homes, and in a terminal care facility, caring for people who were dying. Served on the rescue squad and am on the town emergency management team. Served on the local and regional Planning Commissions, development review board, policy and project review comm. regional transportation advisory committee and the brownfields comm. (evaluates toxic sites for clean-up and re-development). I've seen results, and as you say...the light in the end of the tunnel.

          These are some of the things I've done to create action in the space I occupy on this earth, to help improve it just a little. How about you? How have you contributed to improving the points you mention above?
        • Jul 18 2011: Hi Harun

          I understand how you may feel. I won't re post my comments from "10 Million Human March" because it is pretty long. I numbered it 1-8 if you do take a look but the point is that I believe it to be impossible yet I am still an optimist.

          I know from the last two years of experience that my hypersensitivity to the destruction all over this world coupled with the lack of empathy from it seems like everyone was causing complications with my friends and family. I also observed that some of the worst symptoms I was feeling were drastically reduced when I saw what other people were doing to fix the problems.

          If this describes your state, I get it. Daniel Dennett on TED said to find true happiness "Find a cause greater than yourself and dedicate your life to it."

          Its probably hogwash but I do feel better.
      • Jul 19 2011: I just came back from the garden. Me and CSNY. Very nice work, it speaks volumes about you.
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          Jul 19 2011: Thank you Stephen...glad you enjoyed it. I've learned a lot about optimism from mother nature, while working/playing in the gardens. We keep planting seeds and they keep growing, cleaning our environment, producing food, beauty and joy:>)
    • Jul 17 2011: Please remember Martin Luther King Jr.. He was an optimist. He was killed for his optimism but look at the change in just 50 years.
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    Jul 15 2011: Optimistic, because it is much more enjoyable than the alternative:>)
    One of my life philosophies is, if I'm not part of the solution, I'm part of the problem. Optimists are usually more open to finding solutions. What we focus on expands:>)
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    Jul 15 2011: Before I found TED i felt isolated with my thoughts and ideas (pessimistic), now knowing that ALL OF YOU are out there i feel connected and part of something ----- OPTIMISTIC
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      Jul 15 2011: I began to feel a bit optimistic a while before i found TED, I think that's the reason I looked for something, that something turned out to be TED.
      Glad to have you with us Simon!
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        Jul 15 2011: Thanks Jimmy! its interesting that we are all individuals with our own different "speeds", "worries", "hopes" etc. but that there is one sort of common positive and hopeful energy that we share...;-) talk soon
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    Jul 14 2011: Cordiva,

    I'm a born optimist who has learned pessimism through trial and error. Well, actually learned by idealistic errors that have given me lessons in the benefits of occasional well-placed pessimism. Still, optimism prevails as my preferred orientation.

    These days it's less blind optimism, and now more balanced by conscious awareness that hidden negatives can lurk in the periphery.

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      Jul 15 2011: Optimism and idealism are two different things.
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        Jul 15 2011: Jim,

        You're right optimism implies a positive attitude or outlook for outcomes Idealistic is optimism regards ideals and beliefs.

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      Jul 15 2011: Andrea has captured my position on this question perfectly. A lifetime of study and experience has taught me to be more wary but it has not defeated the wellspring of hope that bubbles out of my core.
      Blind optimism was a product of my early naivity but the mature woman has found renewed strength and reasons to be optimistic about our world.
      Goodness, even though it is often divided and conquored short term, is like the sea- it cannot be held back for long.
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        Jul 15 2011: Debra --

        What a lovely metaphor about your optimism being like the sea. Pessimism-promoting barriers can and do emerge. Sometimes for good, if not protective, benefit.

        But I, too, find optimism, like water, seems to emerge from somewhere deeper and more distributed than external conditions can deplete or contain for sustained periods.

    • Jul 16 2011: Agree with all of this.
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    Jul 14 2011: Predominantly optimistic I am as see "half Full Glass". Even in difficult situation look for the silver lining.
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      Jul 14 2011: Look at the glass as always full, the other half is just full of air....
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        Jul 14 2011: I've never heard that before, It's brilliant!
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        Jul 14 2011: That's really great Neil !!!
        I will follow it, from right now onwards all glasses will be full for me.....:)
  • Jul 13 2011: I'm optimistic because I've always believed that the pursuit of success, rather than the actual success, makes a bigger impact on one's life, so if I stay positive, my life will be positive.
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    Jul 13 2011: i'm pessimistic, but i think it is getting better
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    Jul 19 2011: I am optimistic, because to be any other way ignores the human spirit and the incredible contributions to our collective experiences here. We must look to each other for solutions to our problems and solve the ones that we can. Hunger, wars, global warming, etc. require from each of us the optimist outlook and determination.
  • Jul 19 2011: In a world where more than half are starving, killing, been oppresed and abused; and also there is a quarter which are continuosly stressed, living only for ourselves, thinking in money and power, no matter the rest of mankind, it´s a really hard question to answer
  • Jul 18 2011: Whether you are optimistic or pessimistic largely depends on your age. If you are young, you will probably be optimistic about the future, but if you are old you are more likely to be pessimistic. Cynicism comes with age, I think almost universally.
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      Jul 18 2011: Well Peter, I think that a large percentage of the optimists on this page are middle aged or better. Optimism is a function of several characteristics and can be correleated with age for some people but not for others. I am over 50 and consider myself an optimist.
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        Jul 19 2011: Debra. I agree with you. What tends to happen in life is as people grow old they have encounters which can leave many people feeling negative. We all have these up and down times. But the true optimist sees these things as learning experiences and moves on with a lesson not a residue of pessimism.
        Gene Evangelist
      • Jul 19 2011: I think it might be useful to give some quotations here. They are from Ambrose Bierce.
        OPTIMISM, n. The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with the grin that apes a smile. Being a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof—an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.
        PESSIMISM, n. A philosophy forced upon the convictions of the observer by the disheartening prevalence of the optimist with his scarecrow hope and his unsightly smile.
        It's important to remember that the pessimist will always be right in the end because we will all die eventually. I have to admit though, that optimists will probably have a better journey through life.
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          Jul 19 2011: those definitions are much too extreme to address what most people view as pessimistic or optimistic. I am an optimist, but I do not believe "everything right that is wrong" or am driven by "blind faith". I happen to be extremely practical and logical in my thinking and faith is rarely part of my views. However, I do believe that your life is what you make of it and if you want to be a depressing, pessimistic person then go ahead, but do not go and make the assumption that optimists are driven by blind faith and a belief that everything in the world is "good".
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          Jul 20 2011: Dear Peter, Anything written by anyone, worthy or unworthy, can be quoted. Having lived a full life with some terrible episodes and some great ones, I still see the good in this world clearly. I think that makes me an optimist. I have stared evil in the eyes, I have loved and lost, I have had cancer and still I am not defeated because of the beauty that I see everywhere around me. The ugly and the evil are there and often they are powerful. However, I know, not just think but know that there are millions of people who want to just get through life kindly, loving, helping their kids and neighbours to have better lives. There are more good guys than bad guys and that keeps me optimistic.All pessimists are welcome to their view. I just inist that mine is valid too- based on experience and overcoming.
        • Jul 20 2011: very wrong quotes im not old but that is optimistic doesn't mean you got to be happy on everything what happens, this is more like to say "god will punish them" and just leave...
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    Jul 18 2011: Pessimistic: In 1950, at age ten, five years after the greatest war in history that the good guys won, there was an outpouring of futuristic optimism. Sure, we had Communism to deal with, but technology was burgeoning and the book burners were defeated. It's turned out that we didn't need to burn books, they could be eliminated by tabloid journalism and partisan slogans, that have defined our culture by their ubiquity and simplicity. There is no metric on the decline of engaging conversation on a personal and public level, but for those who remember a different time, it's undeniable.
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      Jul 18 2011: a time with sperate drinking fountains?
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        Jul 19 2011: Separate drinking fountains existing in the southern states, only. The cultural changes over the last 60 years in this country have been profound. Why in the world would you point to Jim Crow laws, when there were vast differences in gender roles, sexual mores, and most everything that defines a society.

        I was referring to depth of intellectual engagement. Television had actual dialog among those of different values, they were not on separate stations, but actually talked to each other. And scores of cafeterias in midtown Manhattan had tables full of workers, spending long hours debating politics, who actually went beyond the current partisan venom. Maybe you had to have been there.
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    Jul 18 2011: what drives a person to be pessimestic or optimisstic ? Can someone provide some information ?
    • Jul 18 2011: It is the information.

      Usually if you don’t have complete information for the decision, it drives you to become pessimistic or too optimistic to take that decision. So the more information you have on positive and negative side of every decision, is the complete information for the right decision.
  • Jul 16 2011: A pessimist is an optimist with experience. 'Nuff said.
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    Jul 16 2011: Optimistic.

    Optimistic people have fun and live longer.
    Gene Evangelist
    • Jul 17 2011: Unless they are so happy they don't see the car coming.

      I am just kidding. I crack myself up.
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        Jul 17 2011: Blessed are they who can laugh at themselves, for they shall never cease to be amused:>)
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      Jul 16 2011: Dear Karthik,
      Is it "wrong"? Or is it different? You make an interesting point, and it is important to know ourselves to know what works and what doesn't work for us:>)

      "Life begets life,
      Energy Creates energy,
      It is by spending oneself that one becomes rich".
      (Sarah Bernhardt)

      I agree with you..
      If we know ourselves, and know that calling ourselves optimistic motivates us to action, then we are "spending" our energy appropriately.
      If we know ourselves, and know that calling ourselves pessimistic, motivates us to action, then we are "spending" our energy equally as well...thanks for that reminder:>)
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      Jul 16 2011: It's just different choices to be optimistic or pessimistic and it's like comparing different flavors of ice-cream. Everyone has the free will and both traits serve different functions to us. It's okay as long as we're working towards one goal ultimately - to improve.

      I choose to be optimistic because to me, it is faith/believe that leads to success and makes life "purposeful" (endorphines maybe?). I'm atheistically spiritual. Some say it is trials and errors that lessen optimism - I'm still young and haven't yet gone through that much - but I would always choose to stick to what brings out the best in me, and that is constructive optimism. : )
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    Jul 16 2011: Indeed, Im an optimistic..
    Being an optimistic, we experience within ourselves and spread around- a POSITIVE ENERGY...
    Which leads us to the Success...
  • Jul 16 2011: I am optimistic because optimists are winners. Pessimists are losers because:

    I can do it vs I can’t do it
    Open to new experiences vs Closed and fearful
    Things could be better vs Things could be worse
    Falls, but gets up again vs Falls, and stays down
    Learns from mistakes vs Repeats same mistakes
    Takes responsibility vs Blames others
  • Jul 15 2011: I'm optimistic because there are so many examples not only of human ingenuity and great accomplishments but more importantly of the empathy which allows us to relate to each other and strive to better this world for each other.
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    Jul 15 2011: As bright-eyed, internal and eternal optimists, it's really easy to be affected--or should I say "infected"--by the world of cynics that co-exists with us. Optimists are often perceived as naive, gullible, immature or inexperienced. Although there may be a level of truth to this, there is another level of optimism with those who have gotten to the sincere belief in sincere belief--not through naivety but through life-revelations. (http://rannykang.blogspot.com/2010/11/sincere-belief.html)
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      Jul 15 2011: Ranny,
      YES!!! We have CHOICE:>)
      Good article...thanks:>)
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    Jul 15 2011: I am a probabilist(statistician)!! that's what Hans Rosling said, and I will say!
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    Jul 14 2011: First off, I must say I was pessimistic for a long time....but now I would answer optimistic. My reasoning is simple, life is too short to spend time wasted on negative energy. Life should be enjoyable and lived to it's fullest.
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    Jul 14 2011: The nature of this question invites me to choose teams. I prefer to think of myself as the caterer that supplies sandwiches to both, after the match..
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    Jul 13 2011: reflecting a bit what Jimmy wrote:

    I am pessimistic about our future because we let ourselves be led and governed by people that very often claim to be elites but do not act like elites should act like beeing a good example, taking responsibility for others and the environment...etc etc

    I am optimistic because (as Jimmy wrote) it seems, as we see/feel on TED, the people (positive elites) wake up and realise that they have to do something and take back control over our planet and not get shmoozed into money/consumption/power greed...

    My optimism is also activated my seeing that people from different disciplines interact and share their knowledge and their strength to put it together to solve problems and make our future better
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      Jul 13 2011: I am optimistic that we will grow tired of 'being led' and commit to governing ourselves as a global village.
  • Jul 20 2011: I am a pessimist because I was raised that way.