Monday, February 25, 2008

Cynicism and some other -isms...

I've been wondering recently if there's far too much cynicism floating around. It seems to me that there is a lot but that it is both very subtle and very persuasive. Everyone has an angle, everyone is only in it for themselves, all politicians are corrupt etc.

The problem, I think, with cynicism is that ultimately it values nothing. I went to a Christening the other week and it was a very nice occasion. It made me consider the true value of family and how great love and friendship actually are. It seems rather passe to say any of these things, of course.

So what is the answer? Well, I don't think that naive optimism is particularly useful either. So what I would recommend is a kind of optimistic pragmatism (or perhaps pragmatic optimism).

Pragmatic optimism is about a realistic approach to the world but one that finds true value in things. It is about dealing with the tension between how things are and how they should be. ('Should' is a very dangerous word, but that's for another time.) I think a kind of realistic perfectionism has it's place here too. If we set our sites low, we tend to achieve our aims. If on the other hand, you aim for perfection, you probably won't get there, but the place you get to will be well worth it. Can you imagine willingly consultantig a doctor who was content with not trying to provide the best possible care?

Pragmatic optimism: Aim for the best, never be satisfied with setting your sights lower but be prepared to willingly accept your own and other people's failings.

Just a thought.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so when can one expect to hear the elaboration on 'should'?