Finding Purpose

History, Philosophy, Theology and Classic Wargaming

Realism and Optimism

Realism & Optimism

It can be discouraging, being a realist, looking at the world full of people that refuse to look for root causes, that deny reality and seek only simple and easy answers to wicked problems. When the West abandoned realism, it was as if one of the legs of the table went missing. A typical day on social media shows us the fruit of that.


I have been called a lot of names over the years. I suspect many more than I know. The home I grew up on had a dirt road in the front for a while and I am well familiarized with redneck diplomacy. Much of the name-calling was probably done outside of earshot- perhaps for that reason.


A reformed pastor/writer once accused me of having a crystal ball – I think the implication was that I actually ‘believed’ I had such an item. A more liberally oriented Presbyterian minister told me once I was making too much of 2020, it was “just a moment”. A liberal PCUSA charlatan essentially called me crazy for actually believing all the trends we see have a source or sources. I bet those are some of the milder insults I have earned over the years.


My daughter however recently hurled one at me that really smacked me. She was mostly joking, mostly, and meant no offense when she told me I was “the most pessimistic man she knows”.  In a very real sense, it hurt me – I am the opposite of a pessimist, I am a realist optimist.


I suspect that every single person that reads what I write regularly or often is also a realist optimist. I would bet money on that, I see many of you on social media, I see both your realism and your optimism. Realism is not in fashion, it is in many ways frowned upon. There are few legitimate realists in the public square posting on social media. Most realists that speak publicly are ignored (and/or insulted), there are solid reasons for that. More on that below.


Realism was a central part of what comprised Western Culture. Without realism (alongside the other components that made us who we are – Permanent Things) you could not have the West as it is or was.


A realist knows some things as axioms

  • ♦ Human nature exists and drives much of how we act and think
  • ♦ Life is not fair and never can or will be
  • ♦ Hard work and perseverance are often our only remedies, but
  • ♦ Hard work will not always cure-all; other humans get a vote and they are often driven by the baser parts of human nature


A realist knows that complex problems never have a simple, binary solution. Emotivists and idealists (the sorts that comprise most people in our current age) cannot even understand a realist, they speak a foreign language. Emotivists and idealists are also very often, if not perhaps always, overcome by a devotion to an ideology, a framing of the world that prints things in a binary way that is understandable and digestible to them. They see ‘good and evil’, ‘right and wrong’ and justice through such a lens, emotivists and idealists on the right and left do this. A realist seeks to understand things more holistically, looking past what we want to see to find what is. Who did what to who and why.


A realist is, by nature an optimist, because in essence, it is all but just a moment, but not at all in the simplistic way the young preacher chastised me above. Human nature is always with us, throughout history, that does not change no matter the technology or ideology present – men treat other men the same, for the same reasons and seek the same sorts of goals in all places and all times. The only difference that matters is that of other cultural influences that shape norms of behavior. But a realist knows, because it is the ultimate law of reality, that we control only what we control and can do only those things we have the power to do – but there is always ‘one more thing to do’. It is the ultimate form of optimism, things will never be perfect, and with technology, some trends will get much worse, but we are never without agency and power to do something.


At times I have subtly joked about some of you, your digging into things that are deep and profound. It was in love and respect even if it was not expressed as such. Your efforts demonstrate that you are both a realist and an optimist, you have sought to see the depth and breadth of a complex problem and perform root cause analysis and despite how big the problem really is, you hold to the knowledge that it is worth the fight. I have much respect for those of you that do this – I would name the names of those that read what I write and carry on carrying on everyday seeking truth, but I would miss someone, so I will not.


It can be discouraging, being a realist, looking at the world full of people that refuse to look for root causes, that deny reality and seek only simple and easy answers to wicked problems. When the West abandoned realism, it was as if one of the legs of the table went missing. A typical day on social media shows us the fruit of that.


I suspect, because I see it in people that simply refuse to ever engage on social media, that there are many more realists out there than we know. Some of these are so aware of our true reality they merely carry on with life and the small things ignoring all they cannot change. We are not alone even when we see so few of us on the field.


Chin up and carry on my friends, there is always one more thing to do. A brutally honest realist assessment of this is that “we cannot win” if we measure winning by the standard of the ideologues, idealists, and emotivists. If we measure it at the human scale, person to person, individuals, those we love, those that will hear then we can and will win. Not in a changing of the world sort of way, not in the short-term, but in a way that matters. And perhaps, over time, in the long-game, perhaps long after we are dead, realism might win outright and so, perhaps the other legs of Western Civilization that are so rotten and tattered might be rebuilt.


It will all get much worse, all of it, a realist analysis of that tells us it is so, that is not pessimism at all, it is reality.  There is always one more thing to do, the sun will come up tomorrow, the Creator of that star and all the others loves us all, we still draw breath, we can still smile and laugh, read good books and love. If somehow they took all of that from us, we can still think and are the absolute masters of what we choose to feel and believe, and no power on earth will ever be able to take that last bit from us. All of the armies, cabals, conglomerates, mobs, and tyrants could ally themselves and confront us but at the end of the day, we are free men and women in our minds and spirits. In the darkest of days, there is always a reason for joy and happiness. Darkness and fear may fall across the land, men may turn to absurdity, tyranny, and depression but darkness can never defeat us or truly win if we hold to realism and optimism and understand the nature of man and of darkness – as well as our true metaphysical reality and Who controls all of that.


Thank you for what you do. Thank you for reading my words – carry on and chin up.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *