Our optimism is incorrigible, as the last year has shown. Indeed, it is a true art to be able to look on the sunny side of things despite the logic and convincing statistical arguments. We were poised to collapse. We were skeptical about assurances that everything was under control, about vaccine developments and online experiments. We didn’t believe that people would like to listen to podcasts instead of chatting live with each other, visit online lectures instead of coming to lecture halls, buy books online, and excitedly capture the moment of receiving a much-anticipated package. Such a reality seemed to be incredible, but it has come.
Skepticism is a sign of a developed mind, of common sense that warns us against hasty conclusions and unjustified steps. Those who are experienced weigh up the risks and calculate the consequences, and they do not start things if they don’t feel their feet. Maybe that’s why most businesses remain untapped.
Optimists believe in the unbelievable. They say ‘we will see who will win’, meaning actually that ‘we will win’: aggressors, pandemic, economic crisis, and all other unfortunate circumstances. They say ‘it will work out somehow’ and wait for things to come round. Terrible things can happen when optimism makes you blind.
It is very easy to resort to caricature and portray skeptics as powerless intellectuals grumbling in the virtual kitchens of all possible social networks or to see optimists as a group of noisy and energetic gymnasts performing meaningless exercises. However, to succeed, it may be better to combine the caution of the former with the energy of the latter.
Last year, when formulating a focus theme, we wanted to push people to make a choice. We wrote ‘optimists or/and also/as well as/never/skeptics’ and hesitated which conjunction to choose. Now, having passed the quarantine, isolation, uncertainty, and fear, we understand that it is impossible without any of these poles.
We are ‘optimists skeptics’. It is necessary for us in order to survive and live.