If the world is divided into optimists and pessimists, I’d place myself among the former. My life story hasn’t been without its difficulties, having lost my father and then my first stepfather by the time I was 8 years old, but my wonderful mother, who wanted to make her life and those of me and my sister as good as possible, married again, when I was age 13, to the man who would be “Dad” to me for almost 60 years, until he passed away last year just shy of his 96th birthday (Mom had died about 10 years before that). My second stepfather was a huge source of inspiration to me, including my choice of a career in medicine. Both he and my mother were, I think , major sources in the optimism I’ve always felt that, if I worked hard at life’s tasks, things would turn out okay. I’ve also always appreciated that “luck” is a big contributing factor. However, these current times are certainly “difficult”, in the “news of the country and the world”, and for me and my family. I still feel, even with my “eyes wide open”, that it’s possible to be optimistic.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, despite Trump’s and his cronies’ intimation that it’s a thing of the past. It is a little encouraging that the infection and death rates in the US seem to be declining some, and also that, with minimal encouragement from the Administration, there’s a fairly large consensus on mask-wearing and remote (on-line) schooling in many (but not all) places (obviously NOT the Trumpers at his recent rally in New Hampshire). The speed with which many vaccines are being developed is incredible, but the trustable authorities stress the care that has to be taken to avoid releasing any of them for general use before complete safety and efficacy testing is completed. I was happy when the antiviral drug remdesivir was released, and hope there are some other, even better drugs “in the pipeline”. I do thing that the poor handling of this crisis by Trump and his Administration is a major (maybe the major) factor behind the strong possibility of his (hopeful) loss in the upcoming November election (for me, a reason for optimism). Nevertheless, I do think that “eventually” (in a year or two?) we’ll get past coronavirus.
After watching both the Democratic National Convention (a lot of it), and as much as I could stand of the Republican one (difficult), you could say that the primary message of each one was “vote for our side, because the other side will destroy our country)” As anyone who’s read what I’ve written before would guess, I believe Joe Biden’s and the Democrats’ take on that. From what I’ve seen, neither party or candidate really got a “bump” in the polls after their respective conventions, which, as of now, leaves Biden/Harris with a pretty significant lead.
Events continue to happen, especially racial and urban unrest sparked by police killings and injuries to unarmed black men. The news gets more troubling daily, with clashes now reported between right-wing and left-wing agitators. From the statements I’ve heard, Biden’s are responsible and trying to induce some calm, and Trump’s are (as expected) inflammatory. Stiil, I don’t know how the pictures of what’s happening in Portland and Kenosha will play out among the electorate–it worries me that urban unrest could help Trump. I do think it’s important that the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests be seen as protests against injustices, and not riots, so that any violence that happens is counter-productive, and helps the Trumpers and racists.
With COVID-19 and resulting economic distress, and nationwide racial unrest ongoing, it’s impossible for Trump to say that the country’s in a better place than it was when he took office, because that’s clearly false. That fact, along with Trump’s continuous and ongoing efforts to upset all of the norms of government and wreck the Constitution continue to give Joe Biden a strong edge in the November election, so, always with the proviso that “you never know till it happens” after the 2016 election, I think and I hope that Biden will win by a lot.
I certainly don’t have the answers to the on-going and increasingly severe problems with race relations in our country, but I do believe that the Black Lives Matter movement is here to stay for a while, and is, in the end, a force for good. I don’t think I really support “defunding the police”, but clearly there’s a nationwide problem in the way police treat non-white people, and something needs to be done nationally to fix it, so that police are again seen as being on the side of justice, and , maybe, that some jobs they take on now are re-assigned to a different type of public servant. What needs to be done to improve things in this area are much more likely to happen under a Biden Administration, so, with my confidence in a Biden win, I have some optimism that progress can be made here.
On a favorite subject of mine, astronomy, I’m optimistic that new discoveries will be made in the years to come, helped by new space probes, such as the Perseverance Rover on Mars, and the James Webb Space Telescope, along with new and larger earth-based telescopes. I do have “faith” that some of these discoveries will be of evidence of life in places other than the Earth.
Finally, as far as my personal life goes, my general optimism hasn’t been so successful, lately. As I’ve mentioned before, our daughter was diagnosed with lymphoma a little over a year ago. After a number of ups (including being close to having a stem cell transplant) and downs, her health status has deteriorated severely. With no treatments left that would work and that she could tolerate, she’s now started hospice care. I tried to be as optimistic as possible in the past year, but, in the end, her lymphoma was “too tough”. She has many people who love her now, and will love her as long as they live. Though every family has its exceptions, including ours, I am optimistic that ours is strong and will get through this.