Everyone's an optimist!

Question: What do you believe?

Jim Lehrer: At the risk of sounding corny, I don’t know too many bad people in public life or in private life. I didn’t know any bad people when I was a kid, when I was growing up.

I was in the Marine Corps for three years. I didn’t know any bad people there.

Right up to this very day, I think instinctively, I think I assume the best rather than the worst. Maybe that’s why I’m still a practicing journalist--because you have to be an optimist to be a journalist. If you didn’t think the problems of global warming, or the Iraq war, or clean water, or crime, or drugs, or HIV could be solved; if you didn’t think they could be solved, you couldn’t be a journalist. You couldn’t do stories about them. You’d be depressed all the time about all the awful problems.

Somebody said, “You journalists are such cynics.”

And I said, “No. You don’t know what you’re talking about.” There’s no such thing as a cynical journalist. You can’t be cynical and be a journalist. You have to be an optimist. And I’m very much an optimist. And it’s always been that way, and it’s true in my journalism. It doesn’t matter to me if I’m interviewing somebody; I don’t judge them as people or even on what their views are. I’m there to let other people make those judgments. Think of that.

It would be really hard to sit on television – live television – and interview somebody that you thought; I don’t do that. I don’t allow myself that luxury. It could be that this guy is a jerk, and you may prove it in a few moments on television; but I don’t assume that. And I don’t make those judgments.

And the same thing applies in my novels. People; because none of us are all evil. I mean, there are some people who do evil things, including us, including me, you know? And we also do good things. And I always assume the good. As I say it sounds corny, but that’s just how I am.

 

Recorded: July 4, 2007.

You can't just be cynical and be a journalist.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Why 'upgrading' humanity is a transhumanist myth

Upload your mind? Here's a reality check on the Singularity.

Videos
  • Though computer engineers claim to know what human consciousness is, many neuroscientists say that we're nowhere close to understanding what it is, or its source.
  • Scientists are currently trying to upload human minds to silicon chips, or re-create consciousness with algorithms, but this may be hubristic because we still know so little about what it means to be human.
  • Is transhumanism a journey forward or an escape from reality?
Keep reading Show less