At home in my pragmatic optimism

Cynthia - Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
Entered on July 23, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

As part of my current position with Habitat for Humanity Guatemala, I interview dozens of Guatemalan families who have benefited from the organization. I ask them how their new Habitat homes have affected their lives, and they tell me stories of hope. Appropriately, the motto of the organization, translated, is “building homes, building hope.” The building of homes has become a powerful symbol for me. Aren’t we all building edifices of belief for ourselves and those around us? They become our habitats, our shelters, our homes. My own homebuilding is underway.

I believe that in most people, the good in their intentions and actions outweighs the bad.

I believe that some groups and organizations work successfully for positive change. I believe my life work is to join them.

I believe that Samuel Beckett was wrong when he said that the tears of the world are a constant. The more time humans are given, the more they will improve their condition.

I believe in creativity, talent, and strength as forces more powerful than the problems and challenges we face.

Although exceptional and rare, I believe that examples of pure altruism exist.

I believe that humans as a species are uniquely capable of impacting the earth in drastic ways. What is this capability? Our divinity? Our intellect? Our will? Our interconnectedness? To know for sure would be to untie a great metaphysical knot that seems only to grow with each attempt to tackle it. More important is to recognize the power of this capability and to take responsibility for it. Starting with ourselves, we must examine it, inform it, and cultivate it, so that each of us might do more good than harm during our brief and mysterious stay on this wild and precious earth.

I believe there is always hope.

These beliefs may be foolish; they may be naïve. They’re subject to constant appraisal. Sometimes they’re hard to defend and even harder to live by. As with all beliefs, they’re only as good as the results they yield. For me, the results are an edifice of pragmatic optimism that I can call home. The structure is a simple A-frame: meaning and purpose buttress each other, pointing upward. When I’m lost in the awe and zing and nonsense of life, I can always find my way back home. In this house, I know I’m not alone.