February 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

It’s alarmingly easy to become pessimistic these days. If you’ve read this column before, you’ve heard me run the gamut from savaging this country’s acquiescence to corporate dominance through to my disgust at the cavalier hurling of most of our tax dollars into all kinds of fiscal black holes, such as profitless financing of new sports stadiums and our gargantuan yearly economic commitment to our offense budget. While we’re on the subject of reasons to be overly pessimistic about the direction this country is taking, don’t get me started on our neglectful custody of the natural world and the spike in number of citizens entering poverty.

So, yes, it’s easy to become cynical. Jaded. To cease searching for the tiny, delicate buds of promise that poke up out of the barren ground that is our social, political and (literally) environmental climate at this time.

But today, I happened to take a particularly enervating yoga class, so I’m here to provide you with ten reasons to be optimistic about the fate of our world. It is not a Top Ten; anyone who has seen that mortally ill segment on The Late Show with David Letterman will hopefully not see any resemblance. They are in no particular order of importance. Here’s the first five; tomorrow I’ll list the second half of the list.


The right wingers will tell you that this country is indeed center-right and heading ever more rightward. This is, of course, baloney. The growing presence of gay politicians, television personalities and serious journalists, hired by conservative corporations, should have told us all we needed to know on this issue. The country is leaning progressive (a much more accurate and inclusive term than “liberal” or even “left”), and the fact that Congress was able to repeal this abhorrent law proves that the radioactivity that used to make any gay issue untouchable is subsiding. My god, we have a President who routinely uses the word gay. A wonderful development.


It’s electric, folks. Remember, the  brilliant documentary Who Killed The  Electric Car wasn’t made that long  ago. Well, we have resurrection. Do  gasoline-powered cars still  overwhelmingly dominate our roads?  Of course. Will this car sell? I have no  idea. But I do know that even the sight  of a fully electric car on the market signals a shift in not only the way car manufacturers are thinking, but also in the way they sense that we are thinking. That’s a big deal and a small step in the right direction.


I know, I said might. But the fact that our President actually brought up the issue of the disgusting large-scale corporate tax evasion currently taking place in this country on a yearly basis is a start. People need to be aware of the problem before politicians like Barack Obama can actually move on this issue. The State of the Union speech was a first tiny step. The share that corporate tax revenues comprise of total federal tax revenues has collapsed in this country, falling from an average of 28 percent of federal revenues in the 1950s and 21 percent in the 1960s to an average of about 10 percent in recent years*. Maybe we’re seeing the beginning of the word getting out.


I may be the wrong person to comment on this, given how much progressive media I consume, but it does seem to me that the country might be cottoning on to the fact that the Limbaugh, Beck and Palins of this world might be spouting the junk that they do not because they believe it, but because it brings them IKEA bags full of cash. There was a time when there was no national dialogue related to the motives and ethics of these people. I see one now- even if it only manifests itself in loud, drowning argument. Sarah Palin’s self-interested, ignorant response to the Tucson shooting didn’t hurt the cause, either. I believe that the right-wing noise machine may have reached its zenith. The only way from here is down.


The cynics can bleat and bray as loudly as they want about organic food being a “scam”, and I’m sure there are many occasions when the term is co-opted and used inaccurately. But no one can deny the growing consciousness that is emerging when it comes to locally grown, healthy food. We have come a long way in a short time, and this movement is not just occurring on the coasts: I have seen a concentration on organic food and local, small-scale farming with my own eyes in the middle of the country as well. There is evidence that we’re collectively beginning to wake up and see that food creation and consumption, and how we go about it, impacts not only our bodies but also the environment, economic policy and the ability of citizens to find sustainable, meaningful employment. There are still thousands of Ralphs and Vons- not to mention that there are barely any real food outlets at all in poor, often black and hispanic neighbourhoods – but they’re not the only kids on the playground now, and people are beginning to understand that big, shiny fruits and vegetables that have neither taste nor high nutritional value don’t serve anyone except the corporations who we’ve been buying them from. If you’ve never been to a farmer’s market, go online, find the nearest one and help us all “win the future”.

If you’ve been swimming in cynicism lately, I hope this brightened your day. If not, check back tomorrow and I’ll see if I can do a better job.


*Source: The Center of Budget Policy & Priorities

Picture: The new electric car, the Nissan Leaf. Trendy.



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