I have been going through a period wherein it has been difficult to write. I know that some of that difficulty has come from the activity of the Holiday season. Part of it has come from the need to take more time with my work and some new responsibilities that come with that work, and part of it has come, I think from becoming used to my anger. My fear is that if I become used to my own anger I become a cynic. After all, is not a cynic just a former idealist?
Idealism fuels change, while cynicism accepts and reinforces the status quo. It is the Idealist who looks at the faults and foibles of the human condition and knows that we can do better. The Idealist knows we can be kinder, that we can find a way to “share the wealth.” Idealism demands that, because we are all human beings, there is a way for kindness and generosity to triumph.
The Cynic has put away the things so greatly valued by the Idealist, and instead has given himself/herself over to the darker trappings of thought where, after all, efforts need not be as strenuous because human nature being what it is, we cannot expect better.
It is easier to be a Cynic. Cynicism calls itself reality. Idealism demands a continuous effort to strive toward a place of elevation of the spirit. Cynicism accepts what is. Idealism reaches toward what can be. Cynicism throws up its hands and gives in to the thought that what he sees is the way things are, and the capacity for nobility is just not within human province.
The Idealist knows better. The promise that exists within the human spirit is like a flame that lights the darkness around us. It is the spark that has inspired the arts and all of those things that have moved us throughout our history and fostered our belief that there is the possibility of a better life for EVERYONE.
There is, at this time of year as at no other, a conflict between the forces that drive the Idealist and the Cynic. The Idealist comes into the Holiday Season accepting that there can be room at the table and accommodation for all of us whether we celebrate Saturnalia, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza. The Idealist believes that the essential theme of this season is that we all arrive at a place of peace and joy for all, no matter how we celebrate the days or what greeting we may choose to use. The cynic, on the other hand, may very well take a stand and think the belief he holds is the only one that is valid, and demand that his choice of holiday greeting is the only one that is acceptable… the only one that can be recognized in the public arena and must be used by everyone. Instead of enjoying the fact that a greeting is being conveyed, the cynic may quibble about the words being used.
In the wider public arena, the idealist looks toward how life can be improved for everyone. Almost all social legislation comes from the heart of the Idealist. The cynic sees the frailty of the human condition and uses that as an excuse to perpetuate the pigeonholing of the less fortunate and the belief that if they wish to be elevated, then they have boot-straps and can use them to pull themselves up.
I hope to remain an idealist until I no longer have breath in me. I want to believe there is a spark of kindness and promise that will light the way toward a better world. I want to…. no, I need to believe that those who use their politics and/or their religious beliefs as a battering ram to oppress others will not, in the final analysis, be triumphant.
To all of us, Idealist or Cynic:
Happy Holidays, and a Healthy Peaceful New Year!