“Optimism is a pressure—it is stress-inducing and intelligence-lowering.
Pessimism is a release: it is relaxing and mind-expanding.
Read the Book of Ecclesiastes (“To everything there is a season”) or Edward FitzGerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (“The Bird of Time has but a little way/To fly”) to see how beautiful and peaceful zero expectations can be.
And remember, when John Lennon wrote “It can’t get much worse” he was, I am sure, being ironic. Of course it can, it always can.”
–Bryan Appleyard, “The happiness conspiracy: against optimism and the cult of positive thinking,” New Statesman, February 2015
I admit. I am a confirmed pessimist – a curmudgeonly malcontent – with a glass half-empty mindset that serves as a tarnished and dented suit of armor providing protection from the disappointments and absurdities of life here on Florida’s Fabled Fun Coast.
Recently, a loyal reader of these cynical screeds nominated a local restaurateur for the weekly Angels & Assholes column – in his view, an Angel who recently reopened his establishment after a short hiatus to stop the financial hemorrhage resulting from the pandemic.
Look, don’t get me wrong – coming back from a near-fatal strategic closure takes a heroic leap of faith – well worthy of our collective praise and, more important, our continued patronage.
But given the weird times in which we live, perhaps acknowledging survivors as winners and losers is inappropriate. . .
For instance, I happen to know many less fortunate business owners who have closed their doors forever – and some who struggle mightily to eke out what passes for a “living” in a patently unfair environment where some businesses are allowed to succeed – even supported by government largesse – while others are doomed to wither and die under the iron boot of government overreach, which permits dictatorial politicians who haven’t missed a paycheck to select who lives and who dies.
These are entrepreneurs and dreamers who spent their lives building something – hardworking people with families and children, employees, mortgages, grocery bills, and car payments – who were first asked to tighten their belts by the state, and have now resorted to boiling and eating those same belts to survive.
Are these people any less worthy of our respect and admiration for having the incredible courage to reinvent themselves after watching their lives evaporate in a pile of insurmountable invoices?
My heart bleeds for them.
Inexplicably, those who should care for them continue to add insult with their infernal optimism. . .
In the August issue of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce rag, “Inside Volusia Business,” Chamber Chair Robert Lloyd began his monthly piece, “The longer this pandemic persists, the harder it is to write an encouraging article to our business community.”
Perhaps Chairman Lloyd and other well-heeled community “leaders” should embrace the fact that each day, many small businesses – some of which are well-established fixtures in the Halifax area hospitality industry – are drawing their last breath, closing their doors forever with little fanfare, suffering the enormous personal and financial pressures that mount as options dwindle.
That’s not something to celebrate with giddy pap and fluff.
This weekend, the Regional Chamber posted on social media a bright sunshiny “happy face” that cheerily announced, “Happy Happiness Happens Day!” – something that prompted one Daytona Beach area business owner to respond:
“It’s simply not a good time right now and happiness seems very far away and possibly like it may never exist again. While being positive is a great way to live, the reality is this, we are not happy and the only way happiness will HAPPEN is if we are given back our inalienable right to pursuit it!”
This forced optimism in the face of an evolving civic and economic disaster isn’t just annoying – it’s cruel.
I’m not saying that caving in to ass-dragging depression is the right response either – but, in my view, when good people are in the fight of their life – empty optimism and admonishments to their members like, “This is not a time to bring politics into information sharing. All that do this will be removed from the comments section. Now is the time to practice civility,” destroys morale and effectively neuters the Chamber’s voice.
I mean, whose side is the Chamber on?
And why do incumbent politicians continue to enjoy this level of protection from our ‘powers that be’ when they should be explaining and defending their suppression of certain area businesses?
This is an election year, dammit, and if the collective voice of Volusia County’s business community isn’t heard now, then when is the proper time for struggling entrepreneurs and their devastated employees to “bring politics into information sharing”?
Screw civility. Shouldn’t those who hold themselves out as advocates for a “fair and equitable” business environment be going to war in defense of those beliefs – and their dues paying members who are struggling for survival?
Perhaps now is the time for entities like the Daytona Regional Chamber – organizations that ostensibly exist to nurture new businesses and support existing ones – to put the “happy, happy, joy, joy, joy!” mantra away, roll up their sleeves, and fight hard for changes to the arbitrary regulations and arrogant pollice verso policies that insult our democratic sense of basic fairness.
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