Monday, June 07, 2004

The Optimist 

The passing of former president Ronald Reagan takes a great optimist from the world. Reagan's view was so relentlessly positive in my remembrance that he could sweep doubt from listeners' minds.

In many ways, optimists are best at public relations too. They are upbeat, positive and able to see good in any situation. They are the best salespersons one has. Their world is without limits, and if there are nasty facts in the way, one walks by them with a conviction that human will can reshape events. And, indeed, it can quite often. Optmists MAKE things happen.

Unfortunately, most of us who have worked in PR for some time are more realistic and pragmatic. Maybe that is good and maybe not. I have watched great PR salespersons spin stories I knew not to be true, but they made them happen and the end result was reasonably OK. I wonder how one does that, and the answer appears to be that optimists believe what they say to be true, whether it is or not. They are people whose dispositions see good even where there isn't much possibility of it.

Reagan had a strong sense of right and wrong built on a base of optimism. He could see Communism was wrong and his conviction of the essential goodness of people allowed him to oppose it. What Reagan couldn't see was that the Russian people would be lost politically for a long period without Communism -- as they still are. It seems that much the same has happened in Iraq.

We need optimists in the world, just not too many of them.


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