Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Optimistically speaking

Someone asked the other day on Quora, an online discussion forum, "Why are U.S. Americans more optimistic than Canadians?"

I dislike questions like that because they contain an assumption. As far as I know, it hasn't been proven that we are less optimistic than the Yanks. Maybe a bit quieter, less rambunctious, less dramatic, less flag-waving, but less optimistic?  Doubtful.

In fact, if you listen to American talk radio or Fox News, if you read the op-ed pages of an American newspaper, if you get into conversations with average Americans you happen to meet on the golf course, it seems exactly the opposite.

Americans are not happy, and they are happy to tell you so. They are not optimistic about their country's future, and many are pessimistic about their own personal future, and that of their kids and grandkids.

Now, they have been through tough times lately, tougher than we have experienced in Canada, so maybe their natural optimism is at a low ebb, and maybe we Canadians are riding a little higher than usual. That's possible.

By and large and over the long haul, I don't think you'll find that we are less optimistic than our southern neighbours.

But if we are, it may be because, as one discusser noted, "Americans don't live next door to the United States."


  1. Did they mean optimism with pessimism as the opposite or optimism with 'having no opinion either way because you are basically content with things' as the opposite?

    Last line made me laugh out loud!