Pronoia is the Antidote to Paranoia

In the 70s, alternative forms of spirituality were once associated with a rose-colored glasses worldview. Today, it’s the opposite – contemporary ‹conspirituality› sees hidden, evil, and toxic forces everywhere. It’s time we at least remember how to put on the rose colored glasses.

This mindset is well encapsulated by the term ‹Pronoia›, which was present in early Christian works, describing the divine providence that keeps the world in order. In more recent times, the word has been popularized by the prolific astrologer and writer Rob Brezsny. Brezsny emphasizes that pronoia does not require one to set aside their critical discernment or abdicate one’s agency – rather, pronoia is a necessary counterbalance to a light form of paranoia which can easily become a sort of default setting in a media environment saturated with shocking news and conspiracy theories. All those dreadful things may be true, but so are their opposites: Positive developments, examples of human heroism, and grounds for optimism and hope abound, even if they don’t get the same number of clicks and airtime. Rephrased on a more cosmic level: Devils exist, but so do angels. Taking it further, Brezsny says, «Even if we can’t see and don’t know, primal benefactors are plotting to emancipate us. The winds and tides are on our side, forever and ever, amen.»

Pronoia isn’t just an exercise in soul hygiene or healthy-mindedness – it’s a political strategy. As Noam Chomsky said, «Optimism is a strategy for making a better future.» Without room for hope, or at least a recognition of the indeterminacy of the future, there is no space for action.

Photo Josh Calabrese

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