It’s in the genes!
Easter message for Lincs FM…
Recent research in the United States has revealed that we humans are naturally optimistic. Believing ourselves to be rational beings who ‘weight up the odds’, take all the factors into account and then proceed to act on good sense, it seems that the reality is quite the reverse. Studies show that, despite external signs to the contrary, we routinely over-estimate how long we may live, believe overwhelmingly that we and our families will remain unaffected by recession and government cuts, lay about in the sun without sun block thinking that it will not affect us and, in a thousand and one other ways, look to the future with hope despite what may happen to us or gloomy signs to the contrary. This phenomenon is called the ‘Optimism Bias’ and it has both good and bad connotations: bad, because it pre-disposes us to take risks that are not worth taking and reason suggests we should avoid. Good, because without our basic optimism the human race would not have the inner drive to succeed in science, sport and business…continents would not have been discovered, books remain unwritten and songs unsung, without our belief that the future is waiting for us and it is a land worth exploring. Hope, it seems, might be genetically programmed into us.
The feast of Easter can be said to be a celebration of the optimism bias…it is the ultimate expression of human hope, for it lays out before us the conviction that the death which Jesus endured on the cross was not an end of him and that he was raised from that death on the third day and his disciples came to an empty grave. Looking in from outside a faith perspective this can look like Samuel Johnson’s famous quotation about getting married after divorce…it is ‘the triumph of hope over experience’, for surely death is obviously an end? But I wonder whether that is true, for I constantly encounter people who’s love for a = lost one survives and deepens. I marvel at the way in which the cold death of winter gives way once more to the life and colour of Spring. And how many times have I witnessed the breakup and death of a relationship, only to find that forgiveness and understanding bring new life? In these and so many other ways, new life seems to follow both our little and our great deaths.
It might be said that, in the same way that optimism is built into our genes, so death and resurrection is in the DNA of creation and that the hope of being raised isn’t just for the end of our lives, but it is the promise of new life in every situation, encounter and relationship-and that’s as sweet a thought as a chocolate egg in the middle of a sweet-free Lent. Happy Easter everybody.