Why I Am NOT Optimistic

In the article “Why I’m Optimistic” by Barack Obama (Smithsonian Magazine, July/August 2010, vol. 41 no. 4, p. 59) Obama writes about his faith in America and American people’s restless inventiveness as what will help the American nation rise to the challenge of the future.

He wrote of the need for a commitment to “prepare [American] kids to outcompete workers around the world [and] to prepare America to outcompete nations around the world.”

While we generally see competition as helathy, we have learned time and again, throughout history, that in competition, there will be a winner and, consequently, a loser.

Obama suggests that America emerge as the winner in the “Race to the Top” in all aspects of society–from education to energy research to the global economy. He is implying a win-lose situation where America will reign as the “winner” and the rest of the world will trail behind as “losers”.

This seems to me a very one-sided and archaic way of looking at things.

Whatever happened to the concept of WIN-WIN? Can’t everyone win in this situation? Must there be winners and losers?

In a generation of globalism and multiculturalism, I think it is time that America realizes that this is not a race with only one winner, because if the majority turn out to be losers, then the whole world loses–the earth loses–humankind loses.

It is time for America to realize that the knowledge, skills and talent needed to save the world do not like exclusively in America. It is time for America to realize that cooperation and collaboration on a global scale is the only way we can face the future and survive as humans. Imagine, if every nation in the world shared their resources–whether in the form of money, natural resources, skills, intellectual resources, technology and labour–all for a common goal, how much easier and quicker that goal would be achieved.

I think it is time we all rise above national egos and consider that saving the earth and working toward a future that is not the picture painted by post-apocalyptic cinema requires us to forget territorial barriers and feudalistic attitudes. We need to make use of our unique traits and our differences to complement rather than compete with each other. We must realize that we cannot save the world by saving only one continent our country, but by saving every continent, every nation, every island. We need to accept that the world is not made up of only humans, but of an intricate global ecosystem in which we are interdependent on each other and on our environments. We must accept that, in this race to the future, we can leave no one behind. We must admit that, for any one country to win, we must all win, or all lose in the end.

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