Today’s word is – – Panglossian
Optimism is dead! I was told this by a good friend yesterday. He said, “It is no longer possible to look at what’s happening with politics, or global warming, or civility, and be an optimist.
Well, no. Wrong. Optimism is alive and well, and we, Optimists of the World, want to invite you to join us. We have even outlined a fail-safe pathway to optimism. It is shared at the end of this essay if you want to skip the middle and go straight to the instructions.
The ultimate optimist is the Panglossian. This came to light one afternoon while musing about a potential publisher ID for my short story collection with my friend Margaret. We stumbled upon the perfect name: Panglossian Press (now the official publisher of my self-published book. Self-publishing is another story but not under the Optimism tab.) It may or may not be pertinent to report that Margaret was drinking absinthe while I was cold sober. However, we reached this conclusion simultaneously: I am the poster child of the Panglossian.
The name may have come from Dr Pangloss, the rather ditsy old tutor in Voltaire’s Candide, who said, among other things and while surrounded by overwhelmingly bad stuff, “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”
The Merriam-Webster people tell us it comes from the Greek pan (all) and glossa (tongue), “suggesting glibness or talkativeness” — maybe they are thinking happy talk. In any case, it seems true that Panglossians are seldom silent or politely subdued. What they are is excessively incurably optimistic.
Look at it this way. Optimists may see the world through rose-colored glasses, but that doesn’t mean their eyes aren’t working. It might mean their hearts are lighter. In the dark days we seem to be living through, won’t a little light-heartedness help?
If you think it might, here is the pathway to Panglossianism:
Listen. Try to shut up for a while (admittedly hard for most Panglossians.) Take in as much Stuff as you can. This initial step can, alternatively, be watched. Or Read. Just not on Facebook. Or, for that matter, any social media currently in existence. Then –
Question. A lot of that stuff is hogwash. If you ask enough questions, you might figure out which. Next –
Toss. Discard as much of the Bad Stuff as you can. Just hit Delete. The Inspiratbrain has only so much storage space. (At least, mine does. My brain has reached the point at which when a new iota comes in; some old iota has to go out — which can make you pessimistic if you’re not careful.) But you can do this; after which you need to –
Assess. Really now. There’s more Good Stuff than Bad Stuff in the world, right? If this seems incorrect, go back to Step 2 and discern what more you need to toss. Eventually, though, you’ll be ready for the final step. Which is –
Reach out. Volunteer at the soup kitchen, protest, whatever strikes your fancy as long as it’s for somebody else and not dull old you yourself. That will bring you back to Step one whenever you’re ready for another round of persuasion. Meanwhile, you will have had at least some tiny positive impact on one of the things my grumpy friend declared as having brought about the death of optimism. Take that, Scrooge.
Now, don’t you feel better? Welcome to the Panglossian Club.