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The world as I see it: Escaping the fear and unhappiness to build a better future

By Jan Dynes

I was asked to write a short piece by a very reputable magazine about how anyone can find happiness in today’s world — the one of pandemics, war, starvation, ‘dog eat dog’ politics and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’.

I couldn’t write that article. I had to decline although I had been previously published and well paid by this excellent publication. Authors struggle with their own consciences when turning down prestige and money. But my beliefs and my take on the world forced me to reject the assignment.

You see, I do not choose to live in that unhappy world, I do not see that as our situation. I see many people living in fear that has them acting out based on false news and conspiracy theories that lead them into a misinformation panic. But that doesn’t make them bad people, not even when they appear to be acting angry and seem unreasonable. Keep in mind that panic does not always bring out the best in people and good people can act badly.

So what do I see looking deeply into other people’s hearts when I exchange awkward Facebook ‘back and forths’, when they direct anger at me simply for being positive and mostly happy and holding onto a deep faith in humanity as a whole? I have been called naive, stupid, blind and a few other less repeatable things simply for telling people that I can respect their thoughts and that we may have to simply agree to disagree. I often ask if they could please supply me with more information and simply back up their positions with varifiable proof, which I would respectfully read.

Sadly, that generally results in an insult and then an end to communications. Yet I still believe we can come together by returning to polite discourse — agreeing to disagree — instead of assuming the other person is wrong. Some of that has been instigated by the false impression that things we do on social media don’t require normal social politeness. I think it is often a mirror that reflects people’s inner tantrums and robs them of their maturity. In so many ways, however, it is a gift allowing us to stay in touch with those we hold dear far away and share snippets of our lives that make us feel closer. There are so many positive and funny posts.

However, I pose this thought: what if politics and party affiliations were to be left out of the personal feeds and only done in the private groups? What if civility became part of the culture of postings?

Unlike many who unfriend those with different points of view, particularly on politics, I choose to hold polite and respectful dialogs to build bridges. I am open and try to listen.  I do not think I know everything or that I am always right. I think keeping an open mind and heart is vital. If people want to discuss politics, they should join political forums to discuss those things and I am fine with that. On the other hand, I want to keep my page light, upbeat and full of hope.

I am a simple woman unafraid to have enormous, yet ordinary dreams, though well-educated; I am still a wide-eyed optimist, equal parts Pollyanna and Peter Pan! I am excited to be an expat in the stunning city of Cuenca and I am excited about my new homeland and the opportunity to grow with it and assimilate with its lovely and tranquil culture. With my Lucille Ball red hair, I may never be taken as a true Cuencano, but I can still share a spirit of family with these wonderful people who have become dear to me and made me feel so welcome. I have fallen in love here with the attitude of welcomeness.

I don’t pay much attention to the world news these days and its myriad gruesome details, only enough to know the broad strokes, and thus I still find the world to be a wonderful place; and to elaborate on the word wonderful, it means “wonder filled.” We need to see the miracles all around us, both those created by Mother Nature as well as by people. We need to believe in one another and make plans that are much bigger then ourselves, plans that have order and a view for our future.

Cuenca is growing and vibrant in times of normalcy — it is caring and welcoming and will grow and rebound brilliantly as we emerge from the current troubles and I am excited to be a part of it, both watching how it handled the crisis and as it plans to re-enter, carefully, the new normal, whatever that may look like. I am convinced it will be a positive evolution.

Though only here two and a half years, I have fallen passionately in love with both the history and the enthusiasm that resonates in Cuencanos and expats from all over the world, a glorious and compassionately mixed humanity delightfully entertwined. We will all work together to make a strong and healthy future once again.

The economy here will be healthy again — believe it, speak it and help it to grow. Few things are more important than believing. Our thoughts, deeds and desires need to be lovely. We need to hold out gifts of generosity, sweetness, genuine goodness of heart and a child-like innocence of mind and spirit. We need to remember old adages, of being good neighbors and loving others as ourselves. We need to drop the desire to be politically correct to the point that has us slinging mud at those who think differently. We are meant to “judge not … yet we be judged”; so let us all lift up our local businesses and our community and then grow it to heights never imagined before and everyone can flourish.

We should remember that the greatest of all things is love, just what our city, neighborhoods and all of us need to spread in Cuenca and ultimately the whole planet.

The world I see is still full of hope. We are being tested and inconvenienced but soon we will all emerge and thrive once more. Hang on and hold each other up. We will all rise together as the flood lifts all boats.

Jan Dynes, the author of Refraction, Dottie’s Gift, Jamal’s Story, The River and Hear Our Voices moved to Cuenca Easter two years ago and fell in love with the city and its people. She lives on a finca on a mountaintop 25 minutes out of Cuenca at 10,400 ft. She found her paradise!

33 thoughts on “The world as I see it: Escaping the fear and unhappiness to build a better future

  1. Good for you, Jan! Thank you for these wise words in a wild and wooly time with civility and compassion seemingly on the wane. The future is only as bright as the choices we make. Keep shining your sweet light…. we all need a little inspiration these days!

  2. Thank you, Jan, for a perfectly timed article. I will look forward to seeing your shining face in town this winter.
    Welcome home.

  3. Your posts on social media are always intelligent and optimistic, most welcome in this world and time. Hope we run into you on the street sometime so that we can meet you and tell you in person!

  4. Bravo! Well said. The road back is ahead of us not back. Change will be difficult but doable. Thank you Jan.

  5. I agree on your social media points. On expat Facebook pages the comments section of this website I see a lot of very angry people and the anger seems to run much deeper than the issues being discussed. Is it self-hatred? The fact that some folks are here because they failed financially or vocationally back in their home country? Whatever it is, they’re a pathetic lot.

    1. I never get angry, I find it a useless emotion unless it accomplishes stopping injustice. And that too is better acheived with calm and rational responses.

      1. Have you watched any of police brutality eyewitness videos? All 9 minutes of Floyd’s murder, saw the face of his murderer? Anger doesn’t have to result in arsens or looting, but it’s the honest feeling of those who care about their country, and people. Inability of stepping in the shoes of the victims of police brutality and racist system, staying “calm” these days, with over 110 000 death and inability of the one in charge to feel compassion and real care, instead of searching for skapegoats – it’s not “calm”.

        1. I agree that was heart breaking, obsene and tragic. I wrote this before that. No amount of Pollyanna can get me through the horror I feel. Black Lives Matter!

        2. Yes the filming of Floyd’s killing was brutal and uncalled for but the aftermath of the BLM’s reaction was over the top. If BLM is so concerned about black lives why don’t they clean up the black neighborhoods where many blacks are killed by blacks almost daily.Can you be clearer on the 110,000 death and lack of compassion statement you made?

  6. Optimism is a quality we all should embrace but it needs to be titrated with responsible amounts of reality. Dogged realists are just as essential to a functioning, healthy society as cockeyed optimists. We should be thankful for both.

      1. I suppose that’s true although uncommon; however, there’s also such a thing as cognitive dissonance that at times like these seems to be almost as contagious as SARS-CoV2. ;<)

        1. I agree. I wrote this article to incite hope. I wrote it before George Floyd. My heart breaks and I stand with Black Life Matters. Pollyanna can’t get past this horror. But it is time and I will still stand. I hope this time we all learn. I am glad of movés being made. I hope that deep change prevails as it must.

          1. I completely agree that George Floyd’s death was horrific and the actions of the police responsible were simply abominable, as are far too many such incidents that should never occur.

            However, I have a huge disagreement with the response to his death and the resulting demands that the response is producing.

            Scott Adams (the creator of the cartoon character Dilbert) summarized it pretty well. He just published the following Twitter thread, which I reproduce here without comment:

            Today is the last day of my seven-day challenge to provide a current example of systemic racism in America. No examples yet, just conceptual takes.

            One view is that racist people in a non-racist system creates “systemic
            racism.” For example, the justice system is colorblind by intention, but not by outcome. The reason for different outcomes is assumed to be racism, but studies can’t isolate that variable.

            And here we have a new problem. If “look at the data” is an argument for
            ANYTHING, why are we having mass protests about police killing black
            citizens at a higher rate than other groups when the data says otherwise?

            If you think the data says police are killing black citizens at a higher rate than other groups it is because you are not good at analyzing things. Which puts you in good company with 95% of the public.

            Maybe 5% of the public knows the numbers you see in the media are INTENTIONALLY misleading. For example, if you think it means something that a higher percentage of the black population is killed by police, you are in the 95% who are being duped by data that is misleading.

            Don’t trust me about the data? Good call. You shouldn’t. Trust the left-leaning people who are experts at analyzing data and statistics. They are all hiding. Hear the dog not barking. No professional data/statistics expert on the left are helping us sort out the data. Why?

            You f***ing know why. They would be cancelled by their own team if they told the truth. Don’t believe me? Again, good call. We live in a world where no one is credible. So let me offer a test of my claim.

            Find me the most credible and left-leaning data/statistics expert, and put that expert in a long-form interview with a well-informed right-leaning interviewer on the topic of police violence. Let’s say Ben Shapiro. This will not happen. Ask yourself why.

            You know that executive order Trump just signed that creates a national database of police misconduct? Half the country is in for a big surprise if the data is deemed credible. To be fair, that surprise could go either way.

            Cancel culture has forced white people to lie to black people for self-preservation. No solutions are possible when debate is effectively outlawed and the data experts are in hiding.

            We are now experiencing mass protests over an issue the data can’t find,
            in a context of continuous race relations improvements, and everyone started out on the same side after seeing the George Floyd video. More white people than black protested.

            How did we get to this absurd point in which the country is being ripped apart by AGREEMENT? Well, it wasn’t because millions of independent-minded citizens looked at the data and made wise decisions, many of them in agreement with their own side by coincidence.

            The biggest red pill in the world is the realization that your opinions on politics are assigned to you by people who know how to make you believe you made up your own mind. There is probably some genetic propensity for conservatism or liberalism, but not policy details.

            Most of you know I’m a trained hypnotist and I write about the techniques of persuasion. Viewed through my filter, the current upheaval in the country is predicated on something real and important-to-fix (racism), but the way we are ACTING on it comes from external persuasion.

            I don’t see a public trying to find solutions. What I see is hypnotized puppets fighting other hypnotized puppets while the puppet-masters cash their checks. And no, I don’t blame George Soros. This isn’t about money influence. It’s about something far more powerful.

            You aren’t yet ready for the truth. But you will be.

  7. I too am charmed by Ecuador every day. I too am an incurable optimist. I precede you by eight years, live 5 minutes closer to Cuenca, and am 400 feet lower. I look forward to meeting you some day.

  8. I have never been one to follow the news. I always say that if something is really important, I will hear about it from someone I know. Then I have the choice as to whether or not to follow up for further info.

  9. Love your enthusiasm for life here. Wholeheartedly agree, and applaud your upbeat attitude!

  10. All this preaching and self praising… By the way – having written, that you can’t pass for a true “Cuencano”, I was puzzled when saw your picture… It seems to me quite natural that you couldn’t pass for a CuencanO, and the color of your hair has nothing to do with it!

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