“I can’t be a pessimist because I am alive.”

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

Warm Mid-Autumn greetings from Viet Nam!

How many of you are familiar with this quote from the great James Baldwin?

I can’t be a pessimist because I am alive. To be a pessimist means that you have agreed that human life is an academic matter. So, I am forced to be an optimist. I am forced to believe that we can survive, whatever we must survive.

I recently shared this with someone who was feeling pessimistic about the current state of affairs in his country and the world. My response was: “If James Baldwin could be an optimist, given the poverty and abuse that he endured growing up, and the racism and homophobia to which he was subjected, so can I – someone who has had a much easier life because of my race, social class, and sexual orientation.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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