I have given the slideshow that I gave here two years ago about 2,000 times. I’m giving a short slide show this morning that I’m giving for the very first time, so — well it’s — I don’t want or need to raise the bar, I’m actually trying to lower the bar. Because I’ve cobbled this together to try to meet the challenge of this session.
And I was reminded by Karen Armstrong’s fantastic presentation that religion really properly understood is not about belief, but about behavior. Perhaps we should say the same thing about optimism. How dare we be optimistic? Optimism is sometimes characterized as a belief, an intellectual posture. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, “You must become the change you wish to see in the world.” And the outcome about which we wish to be optimistic is not going to be created by the belief alone, except to the extent that the belief brings about new behavior. But the word “behavior” is also, I think, sometimes misunderstood in this context. I’m a big advocate of changing the lightbulbs and buying hybrids, and Tipper and I put 33 solar panels on our house, and dug the geothermal wells, and did all of that other stuff. But, as important as it is to change the lightbulbs, it is more important to change the laws. And when we change our behavior in our daily lives, we sometimes leave out the citizenship part and the democracy part. In order to be optimistic about this, we have to become incredibly active as citizens in our democracy. In order to solve the climate crisis, we have to solve the democracy crisis. And we have one.