A balance in life is the pursuit of many of us who strive for perfection. We often fall in the temptation to use black-and-white labels, such as, good or bad, warm or cool, etc. when describing things, even when its original meaning is more than a whole. We need to look no further than the fact that people are described as “The glass is half-empty” pessimistic or the “The glass is half-full” optimistic people, but, in real life, people come in a bell-shaped curve, falling somewhere in the scale.
One of the ideological spectrum is “Idealism vs Cynicism”, which are normally considered on the polar opposite, as both the ideologies weaken the each other. Idealism has its roots in the old centuries, where people thought that through the proper ways, they can change the welfare of human beings, and thus change within a society is possible.
Idealism asserts that the reality, as we see, is actually shaped by the ideas and interest that originally arises in the mind of people, regardless of the external reality. What that means is that people are the catalyst of change in a society. Idealists are skeptical regarding the mind-independent reality, and they tend to believe that what we perceive in the world is purely mental. It is contrasted with pragmatism, which focus on the realities, the actual meaning of things, without the subjective interpretation of a person.
Cynicism, on the other hand, asserts that people are motivated purely by self-interest; that is, altruism is a plain illusion. People who high on Cynicism scale believes that people cannot be changed, and they inherently have selfish motives. They tend to believe that most decisions which human beings take are actually deterministic due to the external factors, including genetic, environment, etc., meaning there is no will power, or at least not in the way defined by religious/philosophical school of thoughts.
Some people assume that idealists are comparatively happier than their cynic counterpart, as they tend to be optimistic. I would argue that Happiness is not correlated with either of the sides. For instance, a cynic might be happy, because he has observed the humankind, and realized that it can’t be changed, or at least not in the way Idealists think, so he happily accepts the bitter reality and try to live his life to the fullest. On the other hand, Idealist, who, although stereotyped as an optimistic person, might be disappointed to see the world not running as per his expectations, so he would remain in a depressed state.
Many critics argue that some kind of cynicism is necessary in our life. Thus, Idealism must not be considered an easy road for those who seek happiness or positive outlook of the world.
Now reflecting on my experience, I really fall in the middle of this spectrum, I would say I am an idealist hidden under the mask of a cynic.
If you must choose the one between the two, which one would you choose, and why?