Sunday, March 05, 2006

Keeping a positive outlook

As a public defender, my job is to be a constant optimist. "C'mon, my client deserves another chance!" is the chant. I really enjoy that part of work. It helps me stay idealistic. Perhaps PDs,are African at heart? It seems as if hope springs eternal on that continent:

Where does such relentless optimism in the face of unyielding misery come from? One glance at the statistical profile of the continent's 900 million people will tell you that Africans can expect to live the shortest lives, earn the lowest incomes and suffer some of the worst misrule on the planet. They are more likely than anyone on earth to bury their children before the age of 5, to become infected with H.I.V., to die from malaria and tuberculosis, to require food aid.

Yet a recent survey by Gallup International Association of 50,000 people across the world found that Africans are the most optimistic people. Asked whether 2006 would be better than 2005, 57 percent said yes. Asked if they would be more prosperous this year than last, 55 percent said yes.

These data bear out what I see all the time as I travel across sub-Saharan Africa as a correspondent: that every single day lived here, each birth, wedding, graduation, sunrise and sunset is, in ways large and small, a daily triumph of hope over experience.

It seems that happiness and optimism can occur even in the worst of circumstances. And even when people might be justified as cynical, such as in Africa:
But the survey also reveals that Africa's optimism is not simply the optimism of faith. Africans, the data reveal, are painfully aware of the inadequacy of their leaders: 8 out of 10 said "political leaders are dishonest"; three-quarters "deemed them to have too much power and responsibility"; while 7 out of 10 "think politicians behave unethically."
Man, that's some valuable perspective. Civil war, corrupt governments and none of the freedoms we have here, and they are happy.

I guess that I shouldn't be too disappointed, then, that the Hoyas lost to USF...


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