Hoping For The Best Can Prove Disastrous

If anything can go wrong, it will

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

I know this is a very pessimistic statement for all positive people out there who painstakingly work not to let any negative thought penetrate their minds. The reality is that things often go wrong, and there’s actually nothing wrong with that.

All it does is teaches us how to improve something or someone to make things better. To expect that everything we do will be an instant success is quite hallucinogenic. We learn by making mistakes, and make progress through small, incremental steps that bring us closer to the desired destination.

So to say “you’re negative”, because you think that way, would be the same as to say “you can’t make mistakes“.

Why pessimism will have a better outcome

I expect that things could go wrong, and everything less than that is a positive surprise. Because facing challenges of any kind is never easy, and to expect to solve them right away is unrealistic.

The Germans call this attitude “Zweckpessimismus“, which could translate into “calculated pessimism“, but it isn’t really that. The better translation would be “deliberate pessimism”, which implies that we use pessimism as a tool to provoke a positive outcome.

The attitude that goes with it is one of extreme alertness and thoughtfulness, not one of concern and insecurity. Because nothing is certain, we place ourselves comfortably in an idle position with no real expectations, focused just on what is in front of us. When we do that, we will most likely do the best we can — and that is all we can expect of ourselves. Since everything else is beyond our control.

Another great attribute that comes along with it is the resulting proactiveness. Instead of waiting for positive things to happen, you proactively create opportunities that help create what you want.

And that includes the “do-nothing“ philosophy as well. Because doing nothing is sometimes better than engaging in hyperactivity if that is what the moment requires. But again, “not intervening“, may just as well fit under the umbrella of deliberate pessimism. Instead of forcing things to play out positively, you let the course of events decide what to do next - before rushing to conclusions.

In both instances, your approach is proactive — either by creating opportunities or allowing opportunities to emerge — detached, yet open-minded.

The concept of a quarantine builds on this approach

Instead of letting sailors, merchants, and other travelers enter their city uncontrolled, officials of the Republic of Ragusa/Dubrovnik, decided to quarantine all incoming ships for a period of 30 days (later extended to 40), to prevent diseases from spreading inside city walls.

After having suffered greatly from the “black death” that was ravaging across Europe, they are often referred to as the first to enforce such regulation.

Since July 27, 1377, when the Great Council of Dubrovnik introduced that measure in a decree, isolation proved to be very effective, and is probably one of the greatest achievements of medieval medicine, and the quarantine of Dubrovnik, an important development in the medical heritage of Dubrovnik and Croatia.

Being rational is not fear-mongering

So approx. 650 years ago, people were smart enough to recognize that plague-control was most effectively managed through having a mindful approach to who is coming into your country — and who’s not.

The recent events around the coronavirus show that this approach of quarantining is still used and functions to this very day.

But looking at how Europe handles its immigration policy, one can’t but be “surprised“ at the naivety of officials who are leading the European Union. To let people migrate freely from Africa or Asia poses a real threat to the health of people living here. Outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases show just how important this concept of quarantine really is.

It is extremely irresponsible to let hundreds of thousands of people enter your “city walls“ without a quarantine — hoping for the best. Mass migration is not just an economic and social threat to a society, but also a health risk which can turn into an economic disaster as well.

We should be more pessimistic about that, instead of just visualizing “positive“ outcomes we cannot control.

Residents of affluent countries sometimes forget that nothing is permanent and that they too will perish one day. Instead of sitting on their high-throne, thinking they are saving the world from this and that, they should rather start saving their minds from frivolity and patronage.

I write about the resistance to change, the unwillingness to take risks, and paralysis of indecision — only the good stuff.

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