Bonhoeffer on Optimism and the Future
A few words on optimism this morning from the late Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
The essence of optimism is not its view of the present, but the fact that it is the inspiration of life and hope when others give in; it enables persons to hold their heads high when everything seems to be going wrong; it gives them strength to sustain reverses and yet to claim the future for themselves instead of abandoning it to their opponents. It is true there is a silly cowardly kind of optimism, which we must condemn. But the optimism that is willing for the future should never be despised, even if it is proved wrong a hundred times; it is health and vitality, and the sick person has no business to impugn it…
This is an excerpt from a 1942 Christmas letter, which Bonhoeffer wrote to his co-conspirators in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. They were ultimately unsuccessful and Bonhoeffer was shortly sent to a concentration camp, where he continued to encourage his fellow prisoners. Bonhoeffer was executed by direct order from Hitler only four weeks prior to the Allies taking control of Germany. Though Bonhoeffer did not live to see it, his hope for peace and justice was eventually realized.