If you were God for a day…

Pessimism is not the opposite of optimism. Both optimism and pessimism are the opposite of apathy.

 

Pessimism is not the opposite of optimism. Both optimism and pessimism are the opposite of apathy.

In support of that assertion, I present Mark Morford, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGate. Morford is one of the most pessimistic writers I have read. He rants regularly against climate change deniers, the Tea Party, the Repugnican party as a whole, oil companies, the military, politicians in general, corporate greed, overfishing the oceans, carmakers, patent attorneys, Arizona….

The list of subjects he despairs about seems endless.

I know little about him personally, aside from his having a large ego, a liking for Tesla electric sports cars, and a pet parrot.

One of his favourite targets is religion. Especially any faith that claims to have all the answers anyone will ever need, based on ancient manuscripts.

Yet in a recent column, he asked, “What would you do if you could be God for a day?”

Now there’s a question that puts the weasel among the parrots.

Most of us, I suspect, would say something about ending wars, deposing dictators, rescuing the environment, and enforcing honesty in government.

Then Morford challenges: “So why not shut up and do it, in the proper scale of your life and your energy and your abilities?”

Oops…

Obviously, we don’t have the ability to accomplish those lofty goals. We don’t have supernatural powers that would enable us to instantly annihilate the free will of everyone who might have a different viewpoint.

Morford’s question brings us back down to earth. In the proper scale of our lives, our energy, our abilities, we have to take whatever steps we can – finite, perhaps insignificant – towards those same goals. We can minimize negative impacts on the environment. We can decline to be dictated to. We can demand accountability, transparency, and even intelligence, from our elected representatives.

We can get involved. We can refuse to be pacified with slogans and platitudes.

“When you stay in your room and rage or sneer or shrug your shoulders,” Morford continued in his column, “the world and its problems are impossibly daunting. But when you go out and put yourself in real relation to real people, or even just real animals, there’s a very real danger that you might love some of them. And who knows what might happen to you then?”

For an avowed atheist – I hope I’m not wronging him by making that assumption – Morford sets up an interesting exercise.

Because God clearly does not arbitrarily do the things we expect. God does not put an end to wars. Or wave a magic wand and mend the environment. Or banish greed. Or make everyone honest and trustworthy.

And because God doesn’t do those things, an increasing number of people deny that there is a God at all.

But perhaps God does exactly what we’re able to do, what Morford urges us to do – get into relation with people, animals, plants, planets… To care about them. Perhaps even to fall in love with them. And to encourage them, in response, to love each other…

Isn’t that, ultimately, optimism?

 

Jim Taylor is an Okanagan Centre author of 17 books and several thousand magazine and newspaper articles. He welcomes comments; contact rewrite@shaw.ca.

Just Posted

Three UBC Okanagan students awarded women in tech scholarships

Computer science and math students hope the award will inspire others

Missing Kelowna woman, Cassy Miller found dead

Miller went missing Nov. 6 and was found 10 days later

Rockets break four game losing streak in Edmonton

The Rockets defeated the Oil Kings 3-1

Okanagan Floral Design students create elaborate Christmas arrangements

The students are making the floral arrangements as part of the Homes for the Holidays tour

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

South region forestry workers nearly in legal strike position

Talks broke down between USW and IFLRA, resulting in booking out of provincial mediator

Privacy concerns over credit card use for legal online pot purchases

Worries follow privacy breaches at some Canadian cannabis retailers

NEB approves operating pressure increase to repaired Enbridge pipeline

The pipeline burst outside of Prince George on Oct. 9, now operating at 85 per cent

B.C. VIEWS: Setting speed limits in a post-fact political environment

Media prefer ‘speed kills’ narrative, even when it fails to appear

Most Read