Fifty

Fifty percent is one-half.

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And this glass is half-full. Can’t you tell? There is so much to look forward to. So much hope in the world. Why, every day there’s a new scientific advancement. The Opportunity Rover just died on Mars, after fourteen years on what was supposed to be a three-month mission. (A three-hour tour, mayhaps?) If that doesn’t give you optimism, if that doesn’t provide you with hope, then what will? Perhaps the fact that more and more people are getting involved in politics, sharing their voices and their ideas? How about the fact that there’s a place in England you can do yoga in a field full of alpacas? Things aren’t great, certainly. But things are looking up. The future is bright!

Fifty percent is one-half.

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And this glass is half-empty. Can’t you tell? The world is crumbling around us. Our president is a racist hack who is single-handedly destroying the soul of America. Or, our president is being hamstrung by a media and a Democratic party completely drunk on the thought of destroying him. Or, our nation is split in two, living out a “cold civil war” between two tribes who can’t even agree on what reality is. Great Britain is falling apart over a contentious divorce. The Russian bear is growling and waking from slumber. And the midwestern US recently had temperatures that could best be described as “three to five degrees warmer than the vacuum of space.” Things are going the wrong way, all over the world. It’s not good. Why did I bring children into this world?

Fifty percent is one-half.

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And this glass — this glass is completely full. The hint was just a few lines up, where I mentioned the “vacuum of space.” This is not in outer space — just some table somewhere on earth. (Likely somewhere not too far from an ACE Hardware store.) The glass is actually half-filled with water, and half-filled with air. That’s the secret of the old “are you an optimist or a pessimist” question. They’re both wrong. And no, I’m not saying, “I’m a realist.” That’s sophomoric. No, I’m saying “I’m a scientist.” And when we look at the world through the lens of science, we can see things more clearly. The glass already has everything it needs, and perhaps it’s losing water, but that means it’s gaining air. Or perhaps it’s gaining water, but that means it’s losing air. That glass will always, always be completely full. (Unless it is hucked into orbit, or put in some nasty vacuum chamber in a lab somewhere.) There will always be enough in it. It just might not be what we expect, or what we want. But it’s what we’ve got. And the sooner we recognize where we are and what we have, the sooner we can make the best of it, and help each other out when we start to drown.

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