The Cynic and The Optimist

IMG_20170923_190257.jpgI have spent a lot of time trying to decide whether I am a cynic or an optimist. What I have found is that it depends on point of view I use to look at the world. People always tell you to look at the big picture, but looking at things from that point of view can be very overwhelming. I look at the news and see the terrible things that are happening all over the world and find myself feeling so very hopeless. The decline of morals and honor over the past few centuries is unbearable to think about.

No matter how I look at it, I do not believe the world is capable of change, at least not in any way that’s good. People who spend their lives trying to change the world are slowly killing themselves. They are fighting an unwinnable war; living an unfulfilling, fruitless existence to achieve nothing lasting. The “world-changing” movement hinges on philosophies that start with the phrase “if only.” If only people would be nicer…if only people got along…if only we all shared the same beliefs, and so on and so forth. The fact of the matter is; there will always be someone who isn’t content living the “right way” because people are innately evil, born with the same selfish desires.

The way of the world is corrupt and complicated. Our society is monotonous. Everyone lives virtually the same life. The American education system is flawed and wasteful. All of the above are completely accurate observations of this planet. Looking at the world from this perspective, however accurate it may be, can be very unhealthy. Dwelling on the truth can be as exhausting a burden as trying to fix a shattered world.

When you look at things from a smaller, more intimate point of view, a happier world is not that hard to see. Simple things like driving with the window down, conversations with the ones I love, playing video games with my brother; these are the things that make life worthwhile. Seeing the beauty in the little things leads to a sense of indescribable tranquility.

Perhaps our society is flawed and monotonous when you look at it from above, but seeing closer up you can see the details that make each person’s life individual and different. Perhaps the world can’t change, but people can. You can’t change the world, but you can change a life. Be there for those around you, expose people to the light of God and treat others as you would like to be treated. Not everyone will appreciate it, not everyone will comply, but each individual person matters. It’s not about thinking of the big picture. Everything can become this meaningless mass. Look a little closer and it all becomes so much clearer. I don’t know if this makes sense, I don’t know if you agree, but it sure makes the optimist look more powerful than the cynic.

Family Vacation

Every fall break, my family and I go to the beach. Typically, we go to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. I love the small town feel of the island and the relaxing break from school it provides. It has been a gift, especially this year with Science Fair at school, to get a break from all the stress. One of my favorite places on the island is the Stoney-Baynard Ruins, once a grand antebellum plantation house overlooking the Calibogue Sound. As someone who loves history, standing in the middle of a place so old and historic gives me chills. The house was burned down shortly after the end of the Civil War, and to be able to walk through what was once a bustling plantation house gives you an incredibly wistful feeling. There is also an enormously twisted tree that my brother and I enjoy climbing that gives you a wonderful view of the ruins. Every time we go to Hilton Head, we have to visit this eerie place at least once. There is a sense of wonderment you feel in a place so old and tragic that inspires you.