I was having a conversation earlier today with a committed Catholic friend of mine who is active in his parish. He was talking about the upcoming Synod on the Family, and the anxiety some conservative Catholics have about what could take place there.

“There is nothing more depressing than people who say ‘things are great, couldn’t be better,’ when it’s so obvious that the opposite is true,” he said.

That line has been with me for the rest of the day, because it captures something that’s especially true about my own temperament. If it’s true that I tend to find the cloud inside the silver lining — and it is — it is also true that I am violently allergic to people who refuse to recognize what is right in front of their noses because it would disturb their peace to acknowledge its existence.

This has been true about me for a long time, across the board. It’s a temperamental thing. Lamentation leavened by a keen sense of absurdist humor is my standard mode of engagement. I agree with my Catholic friend: it’s hard to think of anything stupider and more depressing than someone who pretends that the bad thing happening right in front of our eyes isn’t really happening, because the truth is inconvenient to our presuppositions. Of course the opposite is also true: it’s annoying to refuse to acknowledge the good things happening because they don’t confirm the feel-bad narrative we prefer to hold. I submit to you that the latter is not a problem from which we Americans suffer, while the former is endemic.

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