The Enduring Reason for Optimism

The Enduring Reason for Optimism

I received some feedback from my post last week, Pessimism Abounds, regarding whether or not I am just wearing rose-colored glasses given the state of the world. It’s hard to argue with the state of the world argument in any kind of an immediate time frame. As I was receiving this feedback, I received the following quote from Ryan Holiday’s Daily Stoic email, which I highly recommend by the way.

The building where Daily Stoic’s HQ is located, on Main Street in Bastrop, Texas, dates to roughly the same period [the 1880s], which means it endured through the Panic of 1907, the Great Depression, the Energy Crisis of the 1970s, the crash of 1987, the Tech Bubble and more recently, the Great Recession. It also survived a fire, bankruptcies, divorces, mistakes and disagreements.

That’s not to say any of those crises were easy. Lives were lost. Jobs were lost. Families were torn apart. There was pain, anxiety, fear, frustration. It’s sad to think about. But there is also something uplifting, even inspiring in it too: We kept going. We pushed through. We endured.

That’s what we humans do. We keep going. We survive. When Marcus looked at the past and cataloged the same things happening over and over again, he was making the same observation. He was reminding himself that life is remarkably resilient and persistent, that much of what seems overwhelming in the moment will eventually blend in with ordinary history.

The state of the world argument is an interesting one because when was the last time the world didn’t seem to be in the toilet? Seriously, when? As long as I can remember, political strife has been the reality. Greed becomes excess. Struggle is a fact of life. But we are a remarkably resilient bunch.

Over time, all struggles, atrocities, and inequalities are eventually overcome by hard work, resilience and a belief in a common good.

This is life. But, it is my belief that humans are inherently good. It’s my belief that, as humans, we are always trying to make our lives better than ever before.

Somebody asked me the other day, “When is the stock market going to stop going up?” I responded without so much as a thought and having never responded in this way before, “When people stop wanting more for themselves.”

Because isn’t that the truth of the matter? We are always looking for ways to turn ten cents into a dollar. To date, one of the most historically reliable ways to do that is to invest our hard-earned money into the Great Companies of America and the World. There are surely other ways such as starting your own business, becoming a landlord or author or whatever. But investing in the Great Companies of America and the World has endured as the predominant choice.

I can’t predict the future any more than anyone else can, but I do know that wanting more and better for ourselves is part of our nature as humans. There are always going to be plenty of “Ends-of-the-World” every year that cause us to second guess our investment decisions. But in the long-run, I find it hard to believe that humans will be denied making our lives better.

It’s who we are. Anything that is going on right now will blend in with history, just as anything that happened 30 years ago already blends in with history. Faith in the future is a prerequisite for successful investing. I, for one, will bet that in the long run, future generations will want better for their children than exists today. It’s not a novel reason, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

Stay the course,

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