A pessimist gets misty

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

I believe that the best we can hope for is that things will get worse slowly. I guess that makes me a pessimist. Like a fancy craft beer, my pessimism is tinged with cynicism and skepticism.

My belief is in part a result of my age. Sixty-four is a lot closer to the end than the beginning. It is in part because I'm retired. I have more time to think about matters other than job and children. And I have time to watch The Walking Dead. Zombies may be on the distant horizon.

However, an objective analysis provides very good reason to be pessimistic about life and the future. The red state-blue state divide is coming up on half a century. The failure to pass modest gun control legislation following the slaughter of the innocents in Connecticut provides the best evidence that we can no longer rely on government to protect us. The mighty power of capitalism is now a means to make the rich richer and the middle class poorer. A couple drinking a $200 dollar bottle of wine, sitting high above the city in a $5 million condo with a bird's-eye view of the homeless and panhandlers far below on Chicago's mean streets, is a metaphor for the times.

Weirdly, I've grown comfortable in my pessimism. If the end is near, accept it. Suicide is painless.

But ever so often there is the glimmer of hope. Like the crocus poking its tender shoots up from the garbage dump, I read that the village, District 200 and District 97 agreed to collaborate to the tune of more than a half-million dollars to fund early childhood education in Oak Park. This culminates an effort that began more than 10 years ago.

The achievement gap in academic performance begins in the first grade, so trying to do something about it when the children are much younger makes sense and is supported by research. But that's not really the point here.

Maybe this half-million dollars won't make much difference. Maybe these governmental bodies are spending taxpayer funds on a matter outside the scope of their charge. Maybe poor and underprivileged toddlers are doomed to be poor and underprivileged for their entire lives.

But even a pessimist has to admire the spirit, courage and tenacity of all those who came together on this collaboration. They tried to do something good for the children of their community by offering the possibility of a better education. Just last year, the three governmental bodies were in the midst of expensive litigation over TIF funds.

Maybe there is some hope after all.

According to the newspaper, there were many tears of joy shed at the April 24 joint meeting of the governmental bodies and the Early Childhood Collaboration. There should have been.

Even a pessimist can get a little misty.

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John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 7th, 2013 11:25 PM

For a pessimist, you sure write great optimism.

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