For someone sitting on the very edge of survival, hope is extremely important. Often it is only hope, sometimes even false hope, that allows him to make it to the next day... Cynicism is deadly for someone on the edge of survival. Even in the darkest night, he cannot afford to be cynical. That cynicism just might push him over the edge.There is so much wisdom packed up in those few paragraphs, I hardly know where to start. But for those of you like me - who have run up against this kind of cynicism on the left - I can imagine that it speaks very clearly.
Cynicism is a privilege. When practiced by those in a position to do it well, cynicism allows them to criticize the oppressor and sympathize with the oppressed without ever having to move out of their comfort zone. In fact, one of the main objects of this practice of cynicism is to make the cynic more comfortable. He may not, as yet, be wanting for much personally, but he can see the growing misery all around him so he has to think or do something. The cynic solves this dilemma by thinking that nothing can be done!
Hope is entirely a question of subjective attitude. So is cynicism, but cynicism pulls off its master trick by masquerading as objective reality. The cynic always tends to think things really are the way he thinks they are. Time and again you will see him substitute his subjective understanding, even when he knows it is limited(!) for objective reality.
In the United States, this type of cynicism has gained a strong hold on the left in the past decade or more...
Since the cynic is not looking for ways to attack the problem but for reasons to carry on as usual, it suits this scenario to make the New World Order, the Illuminati, or whoever, virtually all-powerful and quite capable of tricks we aren’t even aware of.
The people, on the other hand, are sheep.
Cynicism springs eternal, so the cynic carries on. He goes to anti-war rallies, he recycles, he does whatever he thinks is the right thing to do, and since he expects things to stay the same or get worst, he doesn’t question whether it is the most effective thing to do.
Cynicism is indeed a privilege for those who can afford to embrace it. Those who can't have no option but to hope.
And look at what he did in that last paragraph...cynicism also tends to wed itself to ideology over pragmatism. We do what we've always done regardless of whether it works. Since failure doesn't really affect me in my comfort, it is always an option.
So my thoughts went to one of my favorite quotes about hope.
What is hope? It is the presentiment that imagination is more real and reality less real than it looks. It is the suspicion that the overwhelming brutality of fact that oppresses us and represses us is not the last word. It is the hunch that reality is more complex than the realists want us to believe, that the frontiers of the possible are not determined by the limits of the actual...And then to contemplating imagination.
- Rubem Alves
Al Giordano, February 10, 2011
Since cynicism is the refuge of victims, power fueled by an imagination unleashed by hope is the antidote to cynicism.