It feels like we're all cynical about everything. The state of the world, the prospects of it improving. Historically there's probably never been a better time to be alive. We live longer, we die from fewer diseases, and we have a lot of time that we don't have to spend on survival. There's so much to appreciate about modern society.
But it's not perfect and sometimes it gets worse. There's a never shortage of bad events and we've never had greater access to learn all about them. Maybe that's partly to blame. How can we believe the world is better today when we're aware of so many more things that previous generations were oblivious to?
The trend of society has generally been up and to the right. But it's not a straight line. There are peaks and troughs but overall we keep getting better. We don't have to be happy with the state of the world but there's genuine hope backed by evidence that things will get better, eventually, and we have the ability to spur those improvements.
Too much cynicism breeds acceptance, acceptance that today's state is permanent and there's nothing we can do. We become jaded and numb to the problems around us but it makes it easier to deal with it all. If you don't believe things can improve, what's there to be upset about?
Optimism leads to disappointment because the world isn't perfect and it never will be. You'll get sad and angry when you witness the world's failings. But armed with the belief that things can improve, you'll try to improve wherever you can. You'll never be able to fix everything, and no one will, but your attempts and the attempts of others will eventually snowball into something bigger than you ever imagined, change.