Margot: “This may be too personal a question, but how do you stay positive in the face of all the negativism in the world? Just by reading your book, My Vast Fortune, I became more convinced that the world is run by self-serving, mean people. ‘The People’ have a voice, but money speaks louder. It can be pretty depressing.”

It’s not too personal, but my answer is so goopy I hesitate to share it. Now is your chance to Alt-TAB to something — anything — with more edge.


OK . . . here goes.

1. Hey: things are great! Most of us in the developed world live with a level of comfort and security and technological wizardry that have been five billion years in the making, yet commonly available in only the last fifty. And some of it, in only the last couple. My cell phone has Caller ID!

We are alive at the magic moment.

(Which is why it is our extraordinary responsibility not to screw it up.)

2. In the main, the good guys — and there are lots of them — are winning more than they’re losing. The Cold War is over. Apartheid has fallen. Water and air are cleaner than they were in many parts of this country. There has been tremendous progress in acceptance of people who are different. Tobacco executives are a bit less smug. The gun show loophole may one day be closed. And on and on.

(OK, so auto insurance reform has proved intractable. But one must constantly keep reminding oneself: there’s more to life than auto insurance reform.)

3. Lucky chemistry. This is probably the biggest part of it. Thanks, Mom.


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