On Pessimism…

An Optimist and a Pessimist,
Vladimir Makovsky

As the world becomes more materially prosperous and safe we, strangely, see a rise in pessimism. We doubt the good-will of our neighbors, we look back at our history with disdain, we fear bringing children into our chaotic world. Cynicism and doubt are often justified, but do they tell the real story? What follows are the thoughts of some wise thinkers that may help us as we contemplate the proper orientation towards life: optimism or pessimism?

….

“Pessimism is not in being tired of evil but in being tired of good. Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy. It is when for some reason or other good things in a society no longer work that the society begins to decline; when its food does not feed, when its cures do not cure, when its blessings refuse to bless.”
G. K. Chesterton

“The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”
James Branch Cabell


“I’m a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will.”
Antonio Gramsci

“A pessimist is a man who thinks everybody is as nasty as himself, and hates them for it.”
George Bernard Shaw

“If children were brought into the world by an act of pure reason alone, would the human race continue to exist? Would not a man rather have so much sympathy with the coming generation as to spare it the burden of existence, or at any rate not take it upon himself to impose that burden upon it in cold blood?”
Arthur Schopenhauer


“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.”
George Bernard Shaw

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Oscar Wilde

“They cannot indulge in any detailed or merely logical defense of life; that would delay the enjoyment of it. These higher optimists, of whom Dickens was one, do not approve of the universe; they do not even admire the universe; they fall in love with it. They embrace life too close to criticize or even to see it. Existence to such men has the wild beauty of a woman, and those love her with most intensity who love her with least cause.”
G.K. Chesterton

“My acceptance of the universe is not optimism, it’s more like patriotism. It is a matter of primary loyalty. The world is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it. The point is not that this world is too sad to love or too glad not to love; the point is that when you do love a thing, its gladness is the reason for loving it, and its sadness a reason for loving it more. People first paid honor to a spot and afterward gained glory for it. Men did not love Rome because she was great. She was great because they loved her.” G.K. Chesterton

“Man is more himself, man is more manlike, when Joy is the fundamental thing in him, and Grief the superficial. Melancholy should be an innocent interlude, a tender and fugitive state of mind; Praise should be the permanent pulsation of the soul. Pessimism is at best an emotional half-holiday; Joy is the uproarious labor by which all things live.” G.K Chesterton

“The essence of optimism is that it takes no account of the present, but it is a source of inspiration, of vitality and hope where others have resigned; it enables a man to hold his head high, to claim the future for himself and not to abandon it to his enemy.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

4 thoughts on “On Pessimism…

  1. Such thought provoking quotes! I have not read anything by GK Chesterton at length, only seen him quoted. This makes me want to actually read his work!

    Like

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