Odi Et Amo

No, this isn't the Catullus poem, beautiful as that is. This is actually about the struggle between idealism and cynicism, told mainly from the idealist point of view.

I am very, very idealistic. Perhaps I should be ashamed to admit that - after all, idealists always walk around with their head in the clouds, don't they? Aren't they childish with their refusal to accept the harsh realities of life and their unrelenting stubbornness? An important part of being an adult is laying aside childish dreams; perhaps ideals are just another one of those. Besides, when have idealists ever gotten anything done? The world doesn't work that way. It will never work that way, because people are too stupid and cruel to make it work, because following your conscience would bring economic ruin, because idealists are somewhere between crazy and batshit insane...

...I'm not ashamed to admit it, strangely enough, since the only people who have ever gotten anything done have been those crazy idealists. A lot of them have failed, but they're the only group which has ever really succeeded in making the world a better place - and it has become a lot better than it was in 1900, or 1800, or 1700 or 1600 or...I could go on, but it would get a bit repetitive. The story of humanity up till now has been one of a species on the up-and-up - albeit with a hell of a lot of setbacks. Humanity will not fix itself: we have to whip it into shape, and even then most of the time we fail. It's just that success is so precious, it's almost worth all the failures we have to endure.

I've said this before, but one of the reasons I'm an idealist (apart from having stupidly firm beliefs in what is good and moral and right) is that I simply wouldn't be able to let go of these stupidly firm beliefs without letting go of what makes me...well...me. I'm not ready to lose my identity just yet. I'm not ready to give up fighting the good fight, whatever that might be. I'm willing to take the ostracision and heartbreak - because, as melodramatic as I sound, it really is heartbreaking to know that you're probably never going to win against a world filled with hate. I'm willing to defend my ideals, even if other people think me crazy. I'm ready to admit that I rank down there with the religious fundamentalists and the Republicans who care more about getting Obama out of office than about their fellow Americans, because I do: we all put our principles first, that's all we have in common.

About the only things I won't do are 1) stop doubting and 2) stop whining. Hey, I'm devoting the rest of my life to a cause I'm unsure of in a way which lands me among fanatics of every stripe. Can't I get a break once in a while?