The duty of optimism

I have been working at Nyenrode for 100 seasons now. I have seen the seasons change on our beautiful estate 100 times. My topic is as old as mankind itself: ethics. How can we live a good life? How can we peacefully coexist? It is a privilege to continually discuss this subject with students, alumni and colleagues.

I am often asked whether I’m becoming cynical about the world around me. “What do you mean ‘ethics’? Don’t you see everything that’s going wrong?” No, I agree with author Rutger Bregman in this case: most people are good. Or rather: most people are mostly good. We don’t always make it easy for each other to appeal to the good in ourselves, after all, with our vicious targets, profit maximization and political games. That is why I endorse the dictum by Sir Karl Popper: we have a duty to be optimistic!

We are all responsible for what the future holds in store. This is our duty, not to prophesy evil but, rather fight for a better world.

Yes, a duty. A moral duty, especially for those who have (or have had) the privilege of studying or working at Nyenrode. This is already a privilege in itself, but being in that position means you are a privileged person. If we can no longer summon up that optimism, then what can we expect from people who are less fortunate?

Edgar Karssing

I feel obligated to help create a better world. But it doesn’t feel like an obligation, as this is a wish for many students, alumni and staff. It is something we want to do. We can make it difficult for each other, but let’s help and support each other above all so that we can continue to proudly proclaim: since 1946, we have been working to create a sustainable future by training responsible leaders and by joining forces with our vast network of alumni.

Edgar Karssing
Associate Professor of Business Ethics

Would you like to contribute to a better future? Read how you can join the Nyenrode Community: Doing well by doing good - Vanessa Buisman