What is a word for when you’re not really an optimist, but you’re skeptical of pessimists? And, no, it’s not realist.
I’ve observed before on this blog that for very important human-evolutionary reasons (i.e., the need to fear saber-tooth tigers), we’re all wired to anticipate danger lurking around every corner. Don’t get me wrong: Bad stuff does happen and there is ample reason to fear and prepare for the worst, but I’m often amazed by how, when it comes to the economy or social issues or national security or whatever, people find it so easy to believe the glass is not only half full, it’s just about empty and what water is there is filled with toxins placed by chemical companies or communists or terrorists.
Let me say this again: I do believe bad stuff happens and there are many things we should really fear, but I don’t believe boogey men are everywhere.
Here’s what I mean: A couple of weeks ago, the New York Times reported a new assessment by American intelligence agencies concludes that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen. And today, the New York Times reports the U.S. economy may not be heading into a recession. Whenever I see stories like these, I know there will be an avalanche of spin “proving” they’re wrong: Some people need for Iran to be portrayed as a grave threat to the U.S. and some people need for us to believe the U.S. economy is heading off a cliff.
Again, I’m not suggesting those on the right or left aren’t justified in their advocacy of their fears and beliefs. I absolutely understand why people can view the glass as empty — no matter where they sit along the political spectrum. However, I came to the conclusion long ago that things are rarely as bad as those who shout the loudest want us to believe (in order, I assume, to push forward their agendas).
I think there needs to be a word for someone like me. (And no, that’s not an invitation for zippy one-liners.) I’m not pleased with where many things are today — and where we’re heading. So, I’m not an optimist. However, I’m skeptical of pessimists, no matter what fear they’re peddling. I’m sure many would like to say that’s being a “realist,” but, again, I have friends who are both right- and left- leaning who are very much realists and justifiable when they articulate their points of view. So, I don’t want to suggest that I’m more “real” than they.
Frankly, I’m a bit skeptical of reality, as well.