The Cynic and the Idealist

By: The David

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!

5 Comments on “The Cynic and the Idealist”

  1. First off, what this article fails to mention is that the idealist position is, at best, seldom realized – if ever.

    Secondly, it overlooks what happens to people who enter that final stage of cynicism – the plunge into Nihilism and a reawakening of one’s Will-to-Power. Once one sees all that society holds as “sacred” and “true” to be little more than a huge pile of bullshit, he is free from the mores and values that once held him captive: now he is in a position to create and destroy value for himself without the approval of any power outside himself.

    Do not underestimate the power of cynicism, my friends…

  2. Glenn Beck is a cynic, so is that Palin woman, not the one that dances, the other one .. I thought the lesson of all recorded history is that we strive to an ideal position and fail, but it is the hope that counts; the cynics will always put there distorted and whacked self interest out there to be licked, and the masses always are led to believe that any “ideal” is unworthy of the effort it requires .. cynics win, because we all are afraid to be good, afraid to be compassionate .. that the cynical view is not only easier to express, it allows one to de-ball anyone who dares to see the glass “almost full”.

    I would rather error on your side David .. always complaining and always doubting makes Jack just a pain in the ass … the cynic is Bill O’Reilly saying that Jesus, when he comes back will appear only on FOX news and will declare himself a conservative .. no wonder we are in the position as a nation and a civilization that we are … the cynics are in charge of the agenda ….

  3. I think cynics usually are in charge of the agenda, Rich. It’s only when people are miserable enough and discouraged enough that they begin to yearn for the voice of an idealist. I have to admire Christopher’s unwavering stance; self-determination is very much a part of my cultural heritage, yet experience has told me there is always at least one idealistic leader or principle the self-determined adhere to. Self-determination is both individual and communal. It is the recognition of individual rights within a community of people with like goals. It is idealistic because it’s a recognition that in order to power yourself, you must give others like powers. Our present society likes to employ a pecking order, with some people entitled to a few more rights than others. This is seen as the natural order of things, therefore falls into cynicism and not idealism.

  4. Same here .I fear I am starting to loose the battle. My parents who cynics always attempt to influence me .I just don’t know how long I’d be able to hold up.

  5. “what is that that motivates us, the will to succeed where others have failed or the yearning to make a difference in places that have yet to see hope”
    This old saying I made up reminds me of what it truly means to be an idealist.

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