Yesterday evening, as I was discussing my latest article with my girlfriend, she commented on the fact that is was somewhat more pessimistic than the previous series I’ve been sharing. Which is true to some extent: my opinions on midterm (no pun intended) American politics are rather bleak because I am convinced that the current polarized climate is effectively helping President Trump in pushing forth his radical agenda.
That being said, I further stated, I am not a pessimistic person per se. I would actually claim the opposite: when all is said and done, I would readily qualify myself optimistic. As often and human history, we currently stand at a turning point. This one concerns the environment and how we choose to treat it going further. If we leverage the great promises technology and innovation are bringing, we stand a fair chance of containing that threat and building a new, sustainable global way of living. I say “if” for argument’s sake: I believe we already are doing just that, and will keep heading in that direction. Because nothing stops human ingenuity for very long, and because we’re already witnessing the first signs of that new world order.
In the mean time… Trump. Great transitions bring with them tensions, doubt, fear and people trying to prey on them. We have seen this again and again before, with varying degrees of intensity and, therefore, concern. Now is not a great time for moderate opinions and inclusive messages. Rather, the current political climate in many parts of the world (not just the US) is shaken by extreme currents - on both sides, to quote Mr Trump in a somewhat more relevant context.
Whether these extreme tendencies will manage to prevail further than they already have or whether moderate factions will start containing their progress towards a stronger new political center remains to be seen. Either way, we already know two things:
1) This process will take time. The rise of extremist groups to the forefront of any major democracy is cause for concern, because it expresses opinions shared by a sizeable part of the population. And these opinions will not disappear overnight. They will require decisive political action to tackle the problems that triggered them: better employment opportunities, greater economical freedom and, above all, access to education.
2) This process will take place. Lest we forget, things were worse before: people had less access to education, minorities had less opportunities, inequalities between poor and rich were blatantly greater… We keep focusing on the present while ignoring the teachings of the past, but any comprehensive comparison will show that most, if not all, societal indicators improve in the long run. Current fears surrounding climate change will find answers in science and innovation; social tensions regarding inequalities will find solutions in new education policies (combined with new technological tools); distrust in technology will gradually reduce… as technology spreads more - and more evenly, thus creating new opportunities across society.
Hope is not and cannot be a short term belief. Or else it is illusion.