Realistic Optimism is a form of Humanism

The other day I apologized to my son for climate change. The climate is already changing. We are already preparing for it and our decisions are affected by it.  As a parent, I was feeling bad that I hadn't done enough.

The same is true of school shootings. He has a heavily armed guard at his school because the threat of school shootings is - real. And again, we haven't done enough or anything really to reduce that threat.

But then I started talking about how lucky he is really. He lives in a time when the water is basically clean in most places. Yes, we have lead problems in several places, but when I grew up clean water wasn't an expectation.

We had rivers catching on fire when I grew up. We had sewage spilling directly on the beach.

I grew up where the air was so bad - were couldn't play outside some days (smog days), the rain had acid in it. And we had to do duck and cover drills in case of nuclear attack.

My son has clean air. Clean water. And the rain isn't going to dissolve the paint on our cars and rivers no longer catch on fire. Yes, he has to do drills to take cover in case of a shooter, but overall - things have absolutely improved.

And, they can improve more. Americans have accomplished amazing things. We got rid of smog in LA through regulations and created industries to help clean the air. We passed environmental regulations and cleaned up rivers and streams so that they no longer catch on fire. When I told my son about this - he was shocked - how can a river catch on fire? They were so polluted - they did.

Yes, we have a lot of work still to do. But we don't need to be pessimistic. We have already fixed so much. And we have learned from our past mistakes. We just have to summon the will to do these things and keep working to make things better. For everyone.

And I don't just say this for America. My friends in India are dealing with smog, and water pollution and water accessibility. And there are solutions for these things, if we decide to tackle them, they are fixable.

We may not be able to fix climate change, but we absolutely can move to cleaner energy sources, and pollute less and clean more. We have done it before and we can and should continue to do it.

As bad as things may seem, the reality is we aren't doing too bad. We have made a lot of progress and we should not allow our current circumstances blind us to this reality.

If we put our minds to it - we can achieve amazing things.

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