Is Optimism Dangerous?

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Billy Graham Tribune Content Agency

Is optimism dangerous?

Jan 18, 2019

From the writings of the Rev. Billy Graham

Q: I believe that optimism is the greatest attribute we can have in life. But others tell me optimism can be dangerous — that’s ludicrous, isn’t it? — O.F.

A: Admiral Jim Stockdale was one of the highest-ranking officers in the U.S. Navy, served in Vietnam and spent time as a prisoner of war in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” He once was asked which men didn’t make it out of the prison. His answer was surprising: “The optimists.” He went on to explain. “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end.”

While optimism can strengthen our resolve to persevere, it can also mislead us when we deny facts. A CNN documentary reported that optimism can take on the distasteful tone of arrogance. For instance, when bad weather approaches and the warning goes out to evacuate a particular area, the optimist might “opt” to stay put instead of getting out of harm’s way. It might work for them, even many times, but then one fateful day the storm hits hard and they suffer greatly.

This happens with those who put God out of their thinking. They set God on a shelf. They are optimistic that since they lead a good life and help people and are kind to others, they will cross the finish line into Heaven. Their optimism about goodness leads them astray. They were not willing to look honestly at themselves and acknowledge before God they are sinners and need salvation.

Truth is not always pleasant, but it is always right. Truth is absolute. The Bible tells us to be on the alert and not be arrogant. When optimism ignores truth, the reality of hope dies. The true optimist will heed warnings and be wisely led by the Word of God.

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(This column is based on the words and writings of the late Rev. Billy Graham.)

(c)2019 BILLY GRAHAM DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

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