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The Bias For Pessimism, and The Myth Of The Evils Of Commerce

In an earlier blog I told you about a book called The Rational Optimist, by Matt Ridley, and as I relish slowly reading it, I'm more and more impressed. It's not a spiritual book, and that's what I like about it, because it confirms what you and I know spiritually about how the world is always getting better--from a completely data and fact based standpoint.

Since high school I noticed that pessimists and naysayers were considered "smart" and "perceptive" while optimistic people were treated like Pollyanna's and intellectual lightweights. Look at all the depressing authors we had to read in high school. Ugh. Even Thoreau was deluded about what would make the world better, as if we'd all be better off if we were spinning our own wool cloth, carrying water from the stream, and baking our own bread without technology. Try that sometime. It's not what it's cracked up to be.

George Orwell's book 1984 was standard reading on how freedom and individuality would decline, Paul R. Ehrlich's The Population Bomb predicted we'd run out of food, and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was full of ecological doomsday wisdom that if you were "eco-cool" you believed. According to them, life on Earth should have declined into pollution, famine, and fascism thirty years ago. Problem is, none of those and other dire predictions by "leading edge" intellectual thinkers ever even came close to happening.

Humans have been biased for negativity and danger since cave man had to worry about minute by minute survival. We're wired that way until enlightenment overrides it. And the mind is a wrong-seeking missile, so many people who are very mental are exceptionally focused on what could go wrong.

Intellectuals are unusually biased toward pessimism, and are lauded and esteemed for their dire predictions--I used to call it pop nihilism--I thought it was new--but Ridley's book showed me that this bias toward negativity is very, very old. Every generation has lamented the decline of the current age and romanticized the lost golden past. Every generation has had it's "apocohoiics" who thought their age was the end time. (See the Woody Allen movie, Midnight In Paris for a fun take on over-romanticizing the past and coming to embrace the present.)

Year after year life on planet Earth gets better overall, and when people look back with misty-eyed nostalgia for some past they think was simpler and better, they're overlooking the hardships, diseases, lower standards of living, longer work hours, and higher mortality rates of those 'golden ages.' Poverty back then was severe, while people considered to be living at poverty level now often have cars, cell phones, and TV's!

Compared to even a hundred years ago, we now live much better (and longer) than the richest kings of old ever did. If a king had 2000 slaves, you now have many thousands of people supplying you with goods and services that king could never dream of--and things are so affordable, even the poor have what used to be royal luxuries.

As you supply others with your goods or services, and money circulates, prosperity expands, and everyone has more than they could make alone as self-sufficient subsistence farmers or hunter-gatherers. Media negativity about the recession only makes a slower economy worse, and creates a depressed response from people, companies, and markets.

Spiritual and supposedly "progressive" people have demonized commerce, money, and large corporations for too long. If not for large corporations, many people would not be able to earn a living, as most people are more suited to working for others in a structured interdependent environment than they are to generating a living solo. Large corporations provide regular paychecks for millions who then don't appreciate it and complain.

Socialist countries have either disintegrated or stagnated, because they don't encourage innovation, incentive, reward for performance, and free thought. They don't succeed.

Ridley enlightens us to the simple fact that commerce has been a major force in evolution. Societies with strong healthy trade and commerce flourished, whereas societies with stifled or stagnant trade actually died out. He proves statistically that prosperity creates more prosperity for everyone. So the next time you start thinking the answer is returning to a simpler time, having less, and using less, read The Rational Optimist.

One of Ridley's most brilliant suppositions is that evolved societies are "collectively brilliant." That no one person on the planet can make a computer mouse, but collectively we do it. It takes thousands of people cooperating, from the drilling of the oil to make the plastic to the making of the chip to the LED light. I love Ridley's catchy phrase that in the density of cities, "ideas have sex with other ideas" creating faster and faster evolution through exchange of ideas, products, and services.

Sure, we can do better, and we will, continually, but be sure you have a basis for any beliefs you hold (and that they support your vibration rather than crashing it) rather than just listening to what popular leaders who seem to be progressive or spiritual say.

Darryl Hannah wrote an article citing a bunch of popular unfounded ecological scare beliefs that I'm sure she's heard other hip ecologists spouting, such as that there are more enslaved people today than ever before. What??? Did she ever hear of ancient Egypt, Rome, and feudal England, where most people were slaves or serfs? Ridley cites the statistics. It's simply fashionable and hip these days to cry wolf and complain about everything from the economy to the environment to health. You know what a vibration-trasher complaining is.

What actually happens is that humanity sees a challenge, has a strong desire that births new ideas and breakthroughs, and makes a change before disaster happens. Intellectuals base their predictions on facts staying the same as they are today, and nothing stays the same as it is today--we evolve, especially when disaster looms. It's those very threats that get us off our laurels to do something different, or to innovate, or regulate.

Maybe the world doesn't always make the changes fast enough to suit some, but we do change. The air and oceans are cleaner than a decade ago, thanks to stricter regulations and lower emissions.

Agricultural production is at an all time high, fewer people starve than ever before, although world population is at record high. Fewer people die of diseases, though the media regularly urges us to panic over the disease du jour. AIDS is now manageable and no longer an epidemic except in a couple of places in the world. Bird flu killed only a few more than a hundred people, rather than the hundreds of thousands predicted. Mad cow disease only killed a few people and never did become the disaster the media predicted. Ridley's book gives a thousand examples backed up by reliable, provable sources.

Of course, disease non-profits know that if they admit cancer is steadily declining, no one will give, and if the Diabetes Society starts admitting it's getting better, it won't get them grants or donations. Ecologists know that their funding will run dry if they admit there are more trees than ever, not fewer, and fewer pollutants than ever. Unfortunately, it is valuable to scare the public to some degree to bring about change, but YOU don't have to buy it wholesale to your detriment.

Hollywood and television are obsessed with disaster stories for some incomprehensible reason. It seems odd that that's considered entertainment, but it's a Free Will universe, and diversity is good.

Y2K, mass destruction by acid rain, terrorist domination, the nuclear holocaust--none of it ever happened.

Life really is on our side, and not only that, due to increased trade, globalization, technology, and communication--in addition to and because of the new vibrational energies coming in--human evolution is on a steeply accelerated upward curve. Communication and the internet is increasing the speed of spread of ideas, and of things like Divine Openings, and making it harder for atrocities to happen without the whole world knowing about it.

The doomsayers simply ignore all this positive evidence, and no one seems to take them to task for being dead wrong about the many disasters they predicted. They just write yet another doomsday book (that will turn out to be wrong) and continue to try to convince us that we need to face some awful reality. They think reality is something you observe, not something you create. And they fail to get how resourceful, flexible, and powerful humans are when they want to be.

People who see opportunity in challenge innovate rather than give up in despair and powerlessness. They do something to change it before disaster happens. Again, we do sometimes wait till it's severe before we innovate and change, but we do change, and we will continue to, more rapidly every year as evolution speeds up. This world will never be complete and finished, but we'll keep evolving and spiralling upward if we stay awake. There are still things to improve, and we'll improve them, with certain pockets of the world like yours leading the way.

Remember when you see a problem to stop and focus on what you'd like to see. You can't hold the problem and the solution at the same time without splitting your energy.

Don't expect the doomsayers to stop. They'll even get Nobel prizes for their work. Just keep your nose tipped up, and create your own reality. They'll be wrong, especially for you.

Enjoy The Rational Optimist. It's also good fodder for those state-of-the-world conversations with people who aren't spiritual, who might think you're a Pollyanna if you say it in spiritual terms, but who might just take a look at The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley. 

Love,
Lola


Note from a reader:

Hi Lola i have been reading some of your free articles. two have relieved me. The Bias For Pessimism and the Spiritual Myths.

I only say incredible because it pierced through. This last weekend, i was imploding in a small gathering of radical academics. Crippled and diminished in worth when conversation revolved around resistance, the 'left' and the 'right', the 'individualist' and the 'capitalist'.

Cynicism is gauged as intelligence and of course, to say something different is 'simple and uneducated". i observed myself going with this flow and later i felt so tired, so derailed...so disappointed in myself. i felt weak. over-powered. sure, i can resolve to not appear in such places. sure i can turn my back...or to put it more drastically, shut my mouth...but why should i?

i realize now that is i who feels dis-empowered and the source of empowerment is with me...i got your book online last week and have done one divine opening so far.

i will continue. i came across it at a time of exhaustion...realizing that seeking and healing is making me more foggy than ever ...and my material life is not connected with or flowing from within...i decided to get rid of my (many 50 spiritual books) and shortly after i came across divine openings. i am not someone to cling to ideas or to follow a doctrine...for me all that matters is the experience of living and my involvement with life...and i know the source and the fuel is within me...no one and nothing can take me there...except i.

so i am giving divine openings a try. i remain open and relieving myself of bulks of knowledge that i have been hoarding...not because i no longer value it (or my experience so far)...but because i sense the need to pause, accept and let go...in order to evolve. in the end that's all that matters to me...to evolve, experiment and express the life in me...in all ways possible....in all ways creative. that is why i am here. thank you once again and more. i will be visiting your website often enjoy sara

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