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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Essay: Liberal optimism, faith, and hope for the future

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Liberal optimism, faith, and hope for the future

From the book: Chum for Thought: Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters by David Satterlee

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Chum For Thought:
Throwing Ideas into Dangerous Waters

Liberal optimism, faith, and hope for the future


Men of the fields, like all men of faith, are optimists. As defined at Acts 17:11, faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Optimists are able to contemplate the future with eyes of hope. They can imagine the substance of a reality that does not yet exist.

Pessimists are more likely to behave as faithless men of fear. They contemplate the future and imagine losing what they already have. This motivates them to worry about preserving things the way they are and conserving resources already at hand.

As children, we are usually relatively weak and understand that we could lose anything at any time. Someone stronger, having more authority or power, can take property or liberties from us at will. This makes us more focused on near-term risks and immediate gratifications.

As adults, there are several typical reactions to this fear of loss. Some may store up that which they fear losing or, like a prodigal, spend carelessly on whatever they can get now. Some may
follow teachers who prey upon their fear. They may work to undermine even the best parts of our own elected government-of-the-people. They may even arm themselves and prepare against a day of “Second Amendment remedies.”

Others, as they develop toward adulthood, exhibit the emotional maturity associated with accepting delayed gratification. This is related to “self-control” – one of the Fruitages of the Spirit. Without this, no one would effectively invest in the future of their children, community, or nation.

By being open to faith in a good outcome, either as the result of hard work, the blessings of a loving God, or both, these optimists are willing to invest their resources – energy, blood, and treasure – in an uncertain future.

The further out these liberals are able to imagine the “substance of things hoped for,” the more radically they are willing to invest in the common good of their communities – voluntarily walking in self-sacrificing love rather than fear.