Keeping Idealism Alive in a Cynical World

Overcoming Cynicism

Thanks in large part to our modern technology and media, we are constantly bombarded with dire messages concerning our world situation. It’s true that adversity has always plagued humanity in one form or another throughout its history. With our modern systems of communication, however, we are made much more aware of all the great tragedies that occur. What’s more, geography no longer serves to shield us; we can be almost instantly informed of disasters occurring halfway across the globe. This level of saturation with suffering and hardship has hardened many people and made them cynical about the human race and its seeming penchant for “doing the worst”.

Idealism is necessary now if we are to surmount all the problems that our world is faced with. We need new visions and methods, as well as a significant strength of belief behind them. We have to believe, first of all, that we can overcome our challenges or else the attempt won’t even be made. Essentially, we need to believe that mankind is worthy and that it deserves a future. This is the essence of idealism with regards to human society.

Such idealism can be difficult to maintain within a cultural climate where the bias always seems to be weighed towards “worse case scenarios”. Mass problems have a way of making individuals feel powerless. But this is exactly where idealism has to be cultivated: on an individual level. Each person needs to feel his or her personal power as a creative being and as a contributor to the larger picture of the world. We do this by fulfilling ourselves, by exercising our own abilities and sharing our knowledge and understanding with the world in whatever ways we’re able to.

Many people never take any small steps in the direction of their ideals because they believe that only a giant leap could possibly bring them to where they’re trying to get to. This is what breeds cynicism and even depression: Having a dream (which all of us do, somewhere inside) and then failing to take even the most cautious steps towards it because one believes it’s impossible.

In order to keep our idealism alive we need to take steps towards our ideals in practical ways – even if, at times, those steps may seem too small to make any kind of difference in the scheme of things. This does not require dramatic displays. It may simply involve speaking our truth even when our viewpoints are unpopular. It may involve sharing the fruits of our creativity in some way even when we feel vulnerable doing so. We nourish our idealism when we honor our own desires and abilities and act upon them.

Practicing idealism becomes easier when we focus upon where we are, and the tools that are ours to use, instead of thinking too much about the (sometimes seemingly hopeless) “big picture” and becoming overwhelmed. It becomes more feasible when we take steps to care for ourselves and find rejuvenation when the onslaught of negative feedback from the world threatens to overwhelm us.

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