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On optimism

By Emily Rosenberg

As an 11 year old, when I couldn’t sleep at night, I would think of how I would write my college

application essay as an open letter to world leaders.

‘Dear Leaders of the world: I’m begging you – please cooperate with each other.”

I imagined admissions officers reading my essay and being stricken with hope. They’d help the word get out to the president, who’d call an emergency U.N. General Assembly meeting.

I’m not sure why I was thinking of college essays that young. I wasn’t Harvard bound. Heck, not too long after I was writing letters, as a 7th and 8th grader, my grades plummeted and I labelled myself an unfortunate outcast. In all of my classes, the athletic kids made fun of me for being shy by making up names for my “invisible friends.” My parents were on the verge of divorce. My only friend constantly made sure I knew that her problems were bigger than mine.

My environment felt like it was crumbling, and still, I found a way to admire my small place in the world – how my path was different from that of others. It was amazing to me how the two British YouTubers I rushed home to watch every day live on the same earth as the Pope.

This admiration wasn’t the naive innocence I had when I imagined a peace letter, but it was a raw passion.

“The world is a kitchen sink and we are dirty dishes,” I wrote in my diary from Justice.

We’ve all seen a sink that’s gone too many days without the dishes being cleaned. The cups, the pans, and the forks all stacked on one another in a big mountain of mess. They support each other; they rely on each other to hold them up. Take one dish from the middle and the harmony comes crashing down.

I witnessed the pain and corruption the world had to offer in my life and on the news. Still, I knew, one day it would be better if we got past the surface stains.

People thought I was unrealistic, but it is what made sense.

It feels clichéd to be writing another worldly Op/Ed, but this is something that has been clawing at my insides and degrading my mental health.

I am losing optimism.

Every day, I read editorials about how America is a failed country. I hear reports about Congressmen from different parties failing to cooperate simply because they are of different parties. I scroll through tired complaints about our president failing to pursue his promises, and see daily updates of a soaring death count from a virus whose existence people still don’t agree on.

When I read that paragraph over, the version of myself that wrote letters to world leaders wants to say that even if Americans have different points of view, if we take a moment to sit down, stop stereotyping, and understand why we have our values, then we will be successful in healing the broken system.

Except, in these editorials, I too often see that it’s too late for America. “It’s too late for Republicans to say sorry,” claimed CNN after the Capitol insurrection.

On the other side of the media spectrum, Fox News called Democrats out on their “breathtaking hypocrisy.”

We are constantly butting heads, focusing on our differences, prioritizing clapbacks over cooperation, and never finding real solutions to the issues that consume us all.

This only fuels our hate. It encourages a divisive, hopeless dialogue. We look at the “mess” of the opposing side and presume they’re too far gone to cooperate, forgetting that they live on the same earth as us.

Change has never come from hate. Those responsible for the Civil Rights Movement didn’t achieve their desired outcome from expecting the least of their opponents.

During the Civil Rights Movement, they were able to change minds because while opponents felt they did not have a lot in common, they actually had everything in common.

Being human. Knowing love.

This is always what will save our earth – as long as we have faith.


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