Should We Tell People "It's Going to Be Okay?"
Some of you may have heard of The Piano Guys, a group of musicians that provide some stunning songs, usually with the Cello and Piano. Not long ago they released a song called, “It’s Gonna Be Okay.” This song embodied all of the many feelings that I’ve felt over the years, the approach that I take to life, the path of the optimist. I absolutely loved the song (embedded below). I wanted to share this message with everyone around me!
But then, my views met opposition.
I think it’s clear to anyone not living under a rock that recent events have sparked intense conflict, tension, and fear. I won’t go into any specifics here because I think we all understand. During this time of uneasiness, my initial reaction was to spread my hope for the future: that it’s all gonna be okay. But then part of me realized that I might have an extremely biased perspective. After all, I’m a white, straight, male. The future looks brighter than ever…for people like me. I don’t have nearly as much to worry about. A lot of what I might perceive as a future danger to my demographic, is actually just a loss of privilege. And losing privilege, bringing us closer to equality, can feel like oppression. In any case, I realized that my privilege may have been responsible for my thinking that everything was going to be okay.
Many of my friends, however, do worry. The women in my life, people of color, and my friends with sexual orientations that differ from my own. These people have good reason to fear the future. My fellow democrats have spent a lot of time outlining all the ways that things could go bad in the form of blog posts, videos, political memes, etc. Statistically speaking, I’m sure many of these materials are sensationalized and exaggerated. That said, I think many of the fears that spawn these predictions are quite legitimate and real. Indeed, many are happening already. To list the number of atrocities that happen to marginalized groups in this country, even in recent months (especially in recent months), would take up more space than I have time to write. Many people in my demographic don’t fully realize this because we haven’t had to deal with it. So it naturally becomes hard to comprehend. And even if my future held the same uncertainties, would it really be my place to say that it’s going to be okay? Because, what if it isn’t?
These are many of the thoughts that have troubled my mind in recent months. Part of me desperately wants to reassure people that everything will be okay. But another part realizes that it might not be, especially for people outside of my own demographic.
But then, I thought about it even more.
Before I go further, I need to explain the views of a typical optimist. An optimist does not, I repeat, DOES NOT blindly believe that positive things will happen in the future. In fact, the opposite is often true. We understand that bad things happen to us, often unexpectantly. The difference is that we see the silver lining in all of those bad things. When one person would complain that the glass is half empty, we acknowledge that the glass is actually half full. In other words, when we’re in the same exact negative situation that a pessimist might complain about, we take a completely different view on the situation. The situation hasn’t changed, only the attitude surrounding it.
I may be biased, but I recommend everyone attempt to be more optimistic. It’s a very stress-relieving attitude.
So then, I saw two new YouTube videos that came out one right after the other, one from a left-leaning moderate, and one from a right-leaning moderate. Both of them had the same general topic: that the world is actually doing better now than ever before. And the more I’ve dug into this idea, the more it seems to be true. All easily measurable signs of progress have shown improvement on a grand scale. I’ve embedded the videos below so you can see for yourself. It’s all very fascinating.
So then here are my conclusions from all this:
- Yes, bad things are going to happen.
- But good things are also going to happen, and at a steady rate of improvement.
- All the bad experiences in my life have taught me something that I value.
I can’t tell everyone that they won’t come across hard times. In fact, most of us will. People of color, women, the LGBTQ community, and other minorities will probably have it worse, at least for now. But it’s not as bad as it was, and it will get better. And if we use our negative experiences to learn, we will come off stronger than ever before. I know that to be true.
I conclude with a quote by Gordon B. Hinckley, a former religious leader in my church: “Carry on. Things will work out. If you keep trying and praying and working, things will work out. They always do. If you want to die at an early age, dwell on the negative. Accentuate the positive, and you’ll be around for a while.”
And so I feel that I can say, with 100% complete confidence, that everything is going to be okay!