"In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club -- the "hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history."
Ah, for a time when politicians could string along stemwinding alliteration like that, instead of what passes for speechmaking nowadays.
At any rate, I'm reminded of this wonderful line as I read some of the reaction in the blogosphere to different things: the health care debate, the Church sex-abuse scandal in Ireland, the new overtime rules in the NFL - well, maybe not that last one, but you get my point. I find this pessimism exceedingly tiring, because it serves no purpose. I've read comments ranging from "we're doomed" to "the war is over and we've lost" to "I'm near tears." Doesn't matter what the issue is; this is how some people feel.
I say "some" people, because somewhere in the back of my mind I still have confidence that people know how to fight. As Tom Baker's Doctor put it in the Doctor Who episode "The Sun Makers," "Remember that you're human beings, and humans always have to fight for their freedom." True, he was talking to people living on Pluto (in an episode so old that Pluto was still a planet), but the sentiment is the same.
If you're upset about health care, I don't want to hear talk about giving up. Fight it. Even if we lose, there's no shame in going down fighting. If you're in despair about the Church, pray. There's no greater weapon than prayer. Remember that Christianity is ultimately a religion of optimism, one in which even death is not the final word. Despair is a sin, and no matter how down you might feel at a given point in time, it is crucial to not give in to it.
I think Rick Brookhiser puts it very well at NRO today, when he talks of what we don't need:
Talk of Doom. We are all doomed in the sense of Psalm 90, "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." To drag doom into politics is almost always attitudinizing, worse when something bad has actually happened, because it substitutes preening for thought. I spent a quarter of a book dealing with the doom and gloom of Henry Adams, and at least he was a genius. Get to work.
Indeed. If you think something needs to be done - and it most likely does - then you know what to do. Get to work. There's too much for all of us to do to be bothered by the nattering nabobs. ◙