From the Editor

Are optimists born or made?

Editor thinks some of both may be true.

The latest research supports what previous studies have already told us: people who approach life with optimism life longer, and they also enjoy a richer quality of life along the way.

That’s encouraging to us natural optimists. It may be irritating information for natural-born curmudgeons.
One thing the latest report didn’t explain was whether optimism is something you’re born with or something you can learn. I sincerely hope it’s the latter, even though in my own case I suspect some of it is genetic.

When I was a young pastor in an Iowa congregation, a lay member invited me to join his service club, the local chapter of the Optimists. I soon discovered that the group, at least in that county seat town, was populated with rising young businessmen. I also learned that, once they reached a certain age (and, possibly, level of success) they tended to migrate to Rotary.

That progression led a few of the stalwarts in the Optimist Club to worry that their organization had no real future, other than to serve as a feeder for the “big boys” in the other service group.

Their attitude didn’t strike me as being especially optimistic, but maybe I was the only one who caught the irony.

I’m inclined to believe that an optimistic point of view can be learned. My reason for saying this is primarily theological. In the Lutheran faith community we are blessed with a grace-based (and, consequently, faith-based) understanding of reality. Everything comes to us as a rich gift from a great and loving God. The result is a landscape full with hope and possibility.

There is plenty to grouse about. Sin and evil do their worst. Corporate captains, labor chiefs, government leaders, even church prelates, may all betray the trust of their constituents. Things look mighty grim at times.

But in the midst of bad news, it’s a great time for a Lutheran to be alive. (Any time is.) The future is secure, and we are blessed, loved, and saved, for Christ’s sake.
If that isn’t cause for optimism, I don’t know what is.