I wrote about my dislike of cynicism a long time ago.
We’re talking about cynicism in its modern usage here, not the Ancient Greek school of philosophy. That one is actually kind of useful.
I said I don’t buy into cynicism as a valid way of engaging reality, and that I think it’s a cheap way out of having to deal with things. It’s a way to fake wisdom by making seemingly profound statements like “things just never change” or “people are people, they all suck”.
Cynicism is a way to avoid helping other people without having to feel bad or guilty.
It’s a way to avoid the difficulty of caring without seeming like a douchebag.
It’s a cop out.
More than anything though, cynicism is a statement of fear, without acknowledging the actual fear. It is, as we are so prone to do, a way of routing fear through another emotion so that we don’t have to admit that fear is present. We are so afraid of admitting we are afraid.
Cynicism is a way of saying “I’m really worried that things are never going to improve” or “It scares me how little it seems like we can trust other members of our species” without admitting we experience fear.
Cynicism is a slash and burn method of escaping the difficult gray areas of life. And, like all slash and burn methods, it leaves as much good stuff chopped up and smoldering on the ground as anything else.
I say all of this with a full realization that cynicism often serves these purposes for me if I am not careful.
The world can be scary. Sometimes we want to escape behind a wall of jadedness, but this isn’t an honest way to engage the reality we are all living in.
Look for the good that is always happening around you, and acknowledge how scary it is when it is hard to find.
Help people with an open heart.
Be cynical about being cynical.
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