I found wisdom in a gamebook the other day, advice I think everyone should take, everyone should remember, everyone should act on.
The game is called Spirit of the Century, and its setting is the world of pulp adventure, in the years following World War I. It's a tabletop roleplaying game which allows you to take on the role of a pulp hero along the lines of Doc Wilde, Doc Savage, The Shadow, Tarzan, Indiana Jones, or Rick and Evy O'Connell from the Mummy movies.
It's a great game. If you're interested in trying out roleplaying with your friends, its rules are easy to learn and use. (It's also so good its initial print run sold out, so at the moment it's tough to find, though it's going to be reprinted).
So anyway, I was reading my copy, all revved up to play (which hopefully we'll be doing soon), when I got to a section called Changing The World: The Core of Pulp in which the authors try to express the spirit of the pulps, and of the heroes who adventured through their pages. That's where I found the wisdom:
Pulp runs on a few simple principles: action, science and optimism.
Of these principles, optimism is the most potent. It is not the shallow, sunny disposition that we so often equate with optimism, nor is there a denial of that which is terrible in the world. Instead, optimism is a tacit understanding that things can be better – that if you give people a chance, they’ll do the right thing, and even if they don’t, enough people will that things can change for the better...
...Because you can make a difference, you should. Taking action can change things, and if you do not change things for the better, there will always be people willing to change them for the worse. Choosing not to act is like sticking your head in the sand and hoping for the best — it’s far more likely to get you shot in the rear...
In the end, the question...is simple. The world can be, should be, a better place. What are you doing about that?
Optimism and Action. Certainly Doc Wilde and his amazing family live that way. And, you know what? I want to live that way too.
We can make the world better, you and I, at least in little ways. We should, not just because little ways add up (which they do), but because doing so at the very least makes our own lives worthwhile.
Be optimistic. Take action. Be a pulp hero in your own world.