The forthcoming 14 April and 21 April 2007 elections have raised quite a lot of dusts. Some have been very optimistic while others sound pessimistic. Opinions have varied markedly along with the divide created by optimism in contrast to pessimism.
Should the optimists be adjudged right and the pessimists condemned in an event that only God can accurately judge at the moment? Is it not possible to integrate the opinions of the pessimists into the workings of the optimists to mitigate hitches? This is the crux of this write up.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in being optimistic, especially in a situation where everything humanly possible has been taken into consideration. On the other hand, the pessimist with a discordant voice does not always represent an enemy of progress. Rather he may be acting as a savior to avert a catastrophe.
Is it always possible for all optimists to critically evaluate all problems associated with a future project without the contributions of the pessimists? I would like to think otherwise. The greatest mistake ever made by man is to silence the pessimists and carry on with the optimists as if such a way would obviously lead to success.
Such events are too numerous to mention and have caused disasters in our religiously, technologically, economically and politically driven world. A few examples from foreign and local events will clarify the import of the foregoing.
First we examine the foreign events. At about the 1600s, thunder was striking in most parts of Europe causing people to panic. It was about this the middle of the century that Mr. Franklin invented his lightning rod. While normal buildings were being protected with the rods, the religionists believed otherwise. They were too optimistic about God’s protection.
As at then, it was considered sacrilegious to install the lightning rod on church buildings in order to protect them. Thus about 1767, “the authorities of Venice decided to store hundred tons of gunpowder in the vaults of a church as the safest possible location” with the belief that the mercy of God would protect the building from thunder.
But thunder struck later and causing explosions that destroyed the church. In addition, about three thousand people died and “a large section of the city destroyed” (See: Golde, R. H. ed. – Lightning Vol. 1, Academic Press Inc, London, 1977, pp 34 – 47 for details). That disaster could have been avoided if Franklin’s lightning rod had been installed on the building. The Campanile of San Marco in Venice was later protected with the lightning rod and tragedy stopped. The pessimists were right but the optimists wrong!
Early in 2003, a U.S Space Shuttle Columbia was prepared to be launched into space. Engineers and scientists working on the Shuttle were highly optimistic that everything had been taken into consideration. The Astronauts were all in high spirits and very optimistic of coming back to meet their loved ones.
But in the midst of all these optimisms, a pessimist raised a discordant tune. He queried the adequacy of a seal linking two components in the system. He had wanted the seal subjected to further tests before being incorporated into the Shuttle. But his voice was overwhelmed by those of the optimists.
Eventually, the Shuttle was launched into space. The journey from earth into space was smooth and successful, but the journey from space into earth was not. The seal had melted and there came a disaster. Suddenly all joy turned to mourn and smiles to cries.
Both lives on board and Shuttle were lost on 3 February 2003 with the remnants spreading over 1,500 square miles. What a colossal loss! Here again, the pessimist was right and the optimists wrong!
On the economic front, the U.S. again stands as a very good example. The shares of Enron energy giant had been about $3.90 before it was suddenly jacked up to $6.00. At the stock exchange commission, a pessimist asked to know which economic variable had propped up the large increase in the share price. Five other optimists aired their voices to overwhelm his.
Thus Enron shares sold for $6.00 in line with the opinion of the optimists. But in less than a year, the share did not just drop back to $3.90, it had made liquidation unavoidable. Again the pessimist was right and the optimists were wrong!
The example for the political front will also be drawn from the U.S. When U.S. went to war in Afghanistan, the whole world was without doubt that the action was justified. But it was not so with Iraq. While the U.S. was optimistic about the Iraqi war option, some members of the UN Security Council were pessimistic about it.
Driven by optimism and might, the U.S. went into the war. Almost four years after, the U.S. is still entangled in the Iraqi war. Meanwhile over $400 billion had been squandered and additional $100 billion in the pipeline. Unconfirmed sources indicated that over 60,000 lives had been lost with U.S. troops accounting for about 3,300. The agony of the war is hunting the Americans worldwide today. Again the pessimists are gaining grounds while the optimists are losing same!
Second, we take a look at local events. Only recently there was the Sosoliso plane crash where a pastor was calling on people on board to accept Jesus Christ to be saved. Her assistant thought otherwise and was pessimistic about the idea helped herself out of the plane.
She survived the crash but the pastor as well as others who were religiously optimistic that Jesus Christ was coming to save them perished. Here again, the pessimist was right and the optimists wrong!
There was a report a few years ago that while the presidential jet was about landing at Abuja, the lighting went off. The standby generator could not be put on until about 5 minutes after the aircraft had landed. If the pilot had been relying entirely on just the lighting features to land without a thought that the otherwise could happen, could the country have avoided a disaster that night?
Again, pessimism had guided the pilot to take extra measures. Those optimistic that such a thing could not happen because of the personality involved and the chain of protocol officers were again proved wrong.
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