Johnson, who was raised by parents who were civil rights activists, said she had long understood the importance of working pragmatically for a better future: “For me it’s not a matter of joy, sadness, optimism or pessimism. It’s just my moral duty to be part of the solutions.”
Focusing on outcomes we can control, and changes we as individuals can influence, can allow us to be optimistic at the micro level, even pessimistic about the bigger picture of the future, Galynker said. Maintaining this sense of personal efficiency can be key when doing a difficult job.
Hal Siden has worked for more than two decades in what some might consider the least optimistic field possible: He is the medical director of Canuck Place, the first hospice for children in North America. But like Galynker, he’s seen how optimism pays dividends in his work.
Siden considers himself a pragmatic optimist who is aware of the fact that he moves through the world with relative ease as a well-educated white man, a privilege that can make it easier to believe that things will work out. He has seen tragedy countless times in his work treating terminally ill children. And yet he, too, sees reason to hope.
In her time at Canuck Place, Siden said, the place’s focus has expanded, along with palliative care, to include more symptom management for long-term illnesses — that is, treatments that don’t cure young patients, but prolong survival. Siden compares his philosophy to making chewy candies: “We are extending lives.” He draws strength from the small ways the center is able to bring people relief in dark and painful times, and in the rare cases where children end up defying the odds. “I just released a young man from our program at 18 years old, who I knew as a baby, when he came to us from the intensive care unit,” he recounted. “After spending six weeks there, he came here to die.” But with treatment, the little boy defied the worst expectations. “And this is not unusual,” Siden said.
Another source of hope is the progress Siden has seen throughout his career. “Every day I see diseases that literally disappear in front of my eyes,” she said.
Source: NYT Español