The Curious Case of the Realistic Yet Optimistic Sahar

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People often ask me how can I both read currents news, and be so optimistic about the future of humanity. The easy answer would be to say that I am a Baha’i and I have faith. Not that it’s not true; however, I also believe in the golden age of humanity for many other reasons.

One reason is the persistence of good in the world. As it currently stands, the level of good might not be enough to overcome the darkness in the world today, but there is a lot of good going on, enough to shine in the darkness. And that good continues to thrive is proof to me that it will continue doing so, and that one day, it will overcome said blackness with its brilliance,

It’s also about hope and despair. One can choose to go down a path of despair, or one can choose to go up a path of hope. I am not saying that we should sit in a circle, sing kumbaya, and rest assured that God will take care of everything. Not at all. Well, God will take care of everything, but as the saying goes, trust in God but tie your camel.

It seems to me that while we are busy reading about the terrible things happening in the world, we forget that inherently, humans are good. When uneducated, we fall prey to our lower nature, which makes us do nasty things. But once we begin to walk the path of true understanding, beautiful things come out. And this gives me great hope, as more and more people are walking this path.

And it also seems that more and more people are also choosing hope over despair. Some friends of mine were recently discussing the matter of the equality of women. It was being said on the one hand that the situation of women in certain countries in Asia was just as bad now as it was before. One of my friends, who had been silent for a while, suddenly asked: is it really? The other friend immediately proceeded to list a litany of unfair things that happen to these girls. “How can you say that they are not being mistreated?”

(By the way, there is a lot of paraphrasing going on here. Just saying.)

“I did not say that,” the first friend said. “There is definitely still a lot of unacceptable injustice happening. However, there are signs that things are going better.” The one example in particular he gave, which really affected me, was that the age of marriage of many women in this area they were discussing had gone, in the last ten years, from 13 to 16. “Don’t get me wrong,” he hastily said. “Forced marriages at any age are a bad thing. But we already are seeing a profound shift in culture. These girls are being allowed to complete more of their education before being married off. Just think, the mothers of today are better educated than the women of yesterday. Think of the implications!”

That this point was being brought out by a guy was also one of the reasons why I have hope for a better future. The shift in thinking is not only limited to the suffering minorities. We are seeing small changes in men around the world, even in places traditionally not associated equality treatment of women. The recent demonstrations in support of the victim of the brutal rape in the bus in Delhi, India that made international news is not small thing; thousands of men are standing up for the rights of women.

There are always social pressures within which we have to work to make the world a better place. The pressures make us feel like nothing is ever going to change. But the world is, in fact, changing, and will continue doing so. As one of my friends said, whatever images we have of the state of the world, we should not be attached to it, as it is often an outdated conception of the world. We need to focus on the people who are enabling or making positive change and on what is going well. Indeed, there are millions involved in making the world a better place, but what about the thousands that are?

And that is the choice between hope and despair, between the glass being half empty or half full. Would this rape in India have triggered this sort of reaction a mere 15, 20 years ago? No. So is it not that far-fetched to think that in 15, 20 years, good things will happen that are not imaginable today.

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