Lidasan: Strategic pessimism may help the peace process | SunStar

Lidasan: Strategic pessimism may help the peace process

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Lidasan: Strategic pessimism may help the peace process

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ACCORDING to recent news, last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he was losing hope in the outcome of the peace process with Moro rebels because of infighting among the different groups.

Most of us view his statement as a negative idea for the peace process.

But I take a different stand. I take his statement as a challenge for all the Bangsamoro people, especially with the Bangsamoro youth today.

Most of us view life in a positive or optimistic way. This is good and this is also helpful for us to have hope for the future of humanity.

Most of us need to be optimistic whenever possible because it makes our lives a little easier to cope with if we assume everything will work out the way we want it. However, pessimism has its benefits though.

When I heard President Duterte's statement, I was reminded of an article from The Wall Street Journal that highlights different kinds of pessimism and the benefit to have a right dosage of it depending on a situation.

Recent studies show that there is more than just one type of optimist or pessimist. The article in WJS enumerates the few different types:

Explanatory optimism: This style of optimism links negative events to external causes that will get better over time.

Explanatory pessimism: Links bad things to their own faults or external causes that won't ever change.

Strategic optimism: This style of optimism doesn't worry about a potentially stressful event and assumes things will just work out. If it doesn't, it wasn't their fault.

Strategic pessimism: This style of pessimism uses strategies to lower expectations and decrease anxiety by thinking through all the negative outcomes and planning for them.

Optimism bias: It is essentially the tendency to think that you're better at something than everyone else and that good things are more likely to happen to you.

Pessimistic bias: This is the tendency to think that you're worse at things that other people and you tend to expect few good things to happen to you.

A lot of us view pessimism as a bad thing. However, we must remember that it has its own unique set of benefits. The Wall Street Journal explains:

"Those who are defensively pessimistic about their future may be more likely to invest in preparatory or precautionary measures, whereas we expect that optimists will not be thinking about those things," said Dr. Lang, who noted the study controlled for factors such as health and finances, but didn't prove causality... A study, published last year in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry & Clinical Neurosciences, evaluated the brain response of 16 older adults when processing fearful faces.

People with greater optimism had reduced activity in the parts of the brain that process emotional stimuli. "Being less bothered by stresses can help in coping," said Dr. Jeste, who led the study. "On the other hand, a nonchalant attitude to dangers can leave the person poorly prepared to deal with a risky situation when it arises..."Optimism can be a disadvantage in stressful conditions."

Every time our president makes a statement, it has a deeper meaning. It’s a classic trait of a good leader to test his people when we want to know the real situation. The statement of President Duterte for me is a strategic pessimism. It has a deeper message addressed to the Bangsamoro people.

Strategic pessimism is also called as defensive pessimism. It is a strategy used by anxious people to help them manage their anxiety so they can work productively. According to the field of psychology, defensive pessimists lower their expectations to help prepare themselves for the worst. Then, they mentally picture out all the bad things that might happen. Though it sounds as if it might be depressing, defensive pessimism actually helps anxious people focus away from their emotions so that they can plan and act effectively.

Strategic optimist, on the other hand, is also needed in the country today. They are people who aren't anxious on any given situation. They are individuals who use this strategy by setting high expectations, and then actively avoid thinking much about what might happen. This can be too risky. Given the context of the peace process, we must be aware of the challenges ahead of us.

Our president has seen the different key players of the Bangsamoro peace process. He has been engaging with them and with the leaders of the Bangsamoro fronts. He has been honest in telling them about the challenges ahead of us especially in crafting a Bangsamoro Enabling law that will be acceptable by all Fronts, the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

As a nation, we need to be realistic in viewing all worst case scenarios in the Bangsamoro peace process. We need to combine different strategies in order for us to properly address the different concerns of our people.
President Duterte uses different strategies in different situations. I honestly believe that he has the good intention to address the conflict in Mindanao. Right now, the ball is in the hands of the Bangsamoro people.

Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on May 10, 2017.

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