This & That: March 21, 2023
Hi there readers,
In this edition of the newsletter, I have a few words about cynicism, a fun list of literary biographies, and a few great links to peruse.
There won’t be a Tuesday newsletter next week, but I’ll be back in two weeks with the Anderberg family’s March favorites.
Something I’m Thinking About: Fighting Cynicism
I recently finished Barack Obama’s superb memoir, A Promised Land. One of the aspects that stood out, and part of why I’ve always liked him as a human, is his unwavering optimism in a culture fueled by cynicism.
In fact, Obama put “Fight Cynicism” placards in various places around the White House in order to remind himself and his staff that it was all too easy to allow that dark inclination to take root.
Of all the people and roles that warrant feeling cynical, the presidency is assuredly near the top of the list. The amount of criticism that person faces — regardless of party — is enough to drive anyone batty.
And yet Obama has always maintained that the promise of America’s founding — freedom and happiness for all — is attainable and worth fighting for.
Now, I’m naturally a pretty optimistic guy. I have a sunny disposition and it’s rare that things rankle me too much. But there are times where I feel out of place because our pop culture is so driven by outrage. Social media feeds, news headlines, and plenty of daily conversations revolve around the shitty things happening in the world.
There’s no doubt that there’s plenty to be cynical about. But society still needs optimists.
Though some of it comes down to your natural disposition, it’s also possible to train yourself towards optimism. Instead of leaning into anger and looking for things to be outraged by, think about how you could change the narrative by being more empathetic, more confident, or more creative in thinking about how to help.
Fight cynicism. Embrace optimism.