Is pessimism a sin?
#1
I've found lately I've been getting into a strange state of mind.  I wouldn't say I'm exactly a pessimist - I think I can accomplish great things, and there's hope for the future.  I just anticipate that everyone I meet is either going to be an idiot or malevolent.  Sometimes I'm surprised, but most of the time I discover that people I meet are unmotivated, rude, and clueless.
Is it bad to not have good expectations of people?  It seems rather Calvanist in a way, but in another way Catholic.  It just seems the way of the world to go down the drain, and I know that some fight this current, but most do not.
The question I have is when does this become despair?  Is despair even related?  Can I utterly despise the company of most people in the world?  Should I stop working retail as a second job?

Oh, and I'm back on the forum again.
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#2
(05-23-2010, 07:17 PM)Louis_Martin Wrote: So I've found lately I've been getting into a strange state of mind.  I wouldn't say I'm exactly a pessimist - I think I can accomplish great things, and there's hope for the future.  I just anticipate that everyone I meet is either going to be an idiot or malevolent.  Sometimes I'm surprised, but most of the time I discover that people I meet are unmotivated, rude, and clueless.
Is it bad to not have good expectations of people.  It seems rather Calvanist in a way, but in another way Catholic.  It just seems the way of the world to go down the drain, and I know that some fight this current, but most do not.
The question I have is when does this become despair?  Is despair even related?  Can I utterly despise the company of most people in the world?  Should I stop working retail as a second job?

Oh, and I'm back on the forum again.

Expect the worst, and all surprises are pleasant.

As long as you don't make your expectations reality (by being sour all the time, or making people dislike you), it seems fine.

I too have a very low expectation of the average person I meet. I expect them to be fat, weak, stupid and spiritually misguided. I get along fine with almost all people and have many positive social contacts.

EDIT: Forgot subject and verb in a sentence up there.
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#3
Welcome back!

I think that isn't pessimistic as much as cynical.  I, too, am a cynic.

I am not a moral theologian, but I think it is only sinful if it makes us forget that other people are children of God and God loves them the same (or possibly more!) than us and wants their salvation and happiness.  We should see Christ in everyone though often it is difficult.

I worked retail, too, and I know what you mean.  The fact of the matter is that average IQ is 100, and that isn't that smart all things considered.  That's not an insult; I'm probably right around average, but when you compare it to smart people (e.g., Einstein, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc.), we're pretty stupid overall.

I think if you keep it in perspective that intelligence isn't the final measure of human worth, and that a lot of malevolence is really just selfishness that we are all prone to and not true malevolence, you will keep a hope for your brothers and sisters in life - and a hope for you and me, too! - that humans can overcome these tendencies of the fall.

When I was working retail (grocery) I had a particularly bad day with customers.  I complained to a butcher who had been there a long time and asked him how he put up with it.  He told me, "I just look at them and say to myself, 'I'm glad I'm not like that.'"  Which I did, and it helped, and to which I would add: say a prayer for them.  Everyone has a story - people usually don't end up acting like shits for no reason.  They could have a bad day, a bad life, been abused, etc.  Maybe they're stupid because no one taught them different, so they aren't stupid as much as ignorant.

For my part I am very cynical.  I expect the worst in general but always try for the best in each individual instance.  Sometimes someone who seems a complete ass can be turned around by a word or act of kindness.  Usually not, but it happens.

Finally, my motto is this: "It's only cynical if  it isn't true."  The reality is most people are mean and stupid - we all are.  Just some moreso than others.  And when you deal with the great unwashed in a retail setting, you're going to see people at their worst because they are usually engaged in a worldly event - buying something.  And they have a very worldly mindest at that point.

You, the retail rep, are as much an object to them as the jacket you are selling them.  You are a means to their worldly satisfaction and nothing more.  If you met them at a dinner party, they would most likely treat you a lot different.  In some cases, humanizing yourself in their mind will go a long way to remove the malevolence and rudeness.

The other way it can be sinful is via pride.  If you start believing you are better than they based on a chance meeting with them as your customer.  I think this is more of a risk for most people than loss of hope.  We start thinking "Wow, I am so much better than all these stupid and clueless people" when in reality someone might be stupid when it comes to buying a calculator but could be a famous neurosurgeon or a very pious person.

If you can take it, I would use this as an opportunity for spiritual combat in the areas of humility and love of enemy.  It's an easy battle all things considered because you only have to be humble and love the person for the span they are your customer, and it will prepare you for bigger battles in those areas when the person is, say, your next door neighbor for 30 years.
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#4
Hi Louis,

First off, this is just based off what my priest has told me, so it may not be applicable to you.  Basically, that is the idea that pessimism is not necessarily a sin, but it can quickly turn into dispair, despondency, and can often be related to pride.  Let me first approach the first two.  Satan can easily use our pessimism to his advantage, to discourage us at first from worldly affairs and this have this lead into spiritual affairs. 

Onto pride, I know that for a while (and I'm still guilty of this) I was angry at the world, for turning away from the glorious Christendom that used to be here.  I'd look own on others and also be impatient with them.  Although, I'd give lip service to hoping for them, it was not from my heart.  This was pride at its worst.  Eventually, I began praying, particularly for two people who ticked me off that day, and I try not to concern myself too much.  Like another person said before, realistically, I hope for the best, but make plans in case that falls through.  However, spiritually, I try to never get angry with people or doubt them.  For if Christ, King of the Universe, doesn't doubt me, how can I doubt another man made in His image.  Also, praying before the Mother of God to teach me helps also.  I know I rambled, but I hope this helps!

Abbie
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