We are dying.
I don’t know exactly when it started but I couldn’t help but notice. Symptoms were, and still are, showing everywhere. We are dying. Dying of poisoning. And I believe this poison to be called “Cynicism”.
I assume most of us know what cynicism is but to be sure what we are talking about here, let me quote the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary:
1. The belief that people only do things to help themselves, rather than for good or sincere reason
2. The belief that something good will not happen or that something is not important
Hmm… Isn’t it something we face everyday? Coming from the mouth of the old man interviewed yesterday evening on TV, from the young woman behind us in the bus this morning or from our own heart when we heard the last speech of our dear Donald or of our dearest Hilary? I know that, in my case, it is. It is rampant everywhere.
Often, it shows when someone suggests to act with kindness, love or forgiveness. To that, I hear people reply “We are not in a World of Care Bears!” Meaning: life is not all fuzzy and warm. It is not made of fluffy pink unicorns farting rainbows (and if you don’t get the meaning of that… I am not sure how to be any clearer, sorry). And I get it. Just writing these three qualities makes me feel so naive. I mean, who still believes in that, right? But let me ask you, what do you believe in? I am not asking if you are knelling before Artemis, following Jesus Christ or expecting two flying saucers to pick you up on the roof of your building. What do you believe for this world? What do you want? Do you want a place buried under corruption, violence and hate? A place where our children might not have enough drinkable water, edible food and breathable air? I don’t think so. I know I don’t.
So why? Why, when we hear about “love”or “hope”, do we dismiss it as fast as we can? I believe we simply want to be realistic. After all, we know what real life is. It’s made out of blood, toil, tears and sweat. Not out of rainbows. Well, I believe, often enough, this need to be realistic is only an excuse. It’s plain pessimism, rooted in cyniscism.
That’s why it’s the poison of our age. It’s our first line of defense, our shield against our past, our pain, our fear. Who has never been hurt by someone he love(d)? Who has never been bitterly disappointed after having hoped for something so badly? And after that, we just shut it down. Nobody is going to find us in a position that vulnerable ever again! So we close ourselve up and we settle deep into our “realistic” perspective of life, where everything is grey and hope and love are commodity we can’t afford. And that’s why it is killing us. Because, yes, we protect ourselves, but our very own walls are stealing from us. It’s sucking life out of us, we end up simply not taking any risk. We expect bad things to come around the corner so we don’t put ourselves out there, we give up and we don’t try. Alexander Pope perfectly illustrated this attitude of mind when he said “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”. We are afraid to be hurt , to be disappointed and therefore we don’t try and if we don’t try, our days fill up with routine, security, boredom and at the end of the day we are dry. Dry and dead.
I discovered in the past few years that so many good things are risky. Don’t we take risks when we dare to chase our dreams, what makes us come alive at last, what we are made for? Don’t we take risks when we dare to express what we really think, let’s say, to our parents? Don’t we take risks when we open up about our feelings to the one we love? Don’t we take risks when we let our friends see the struggle inside of us? The possibility of rejection, failure, or betrayal is definitly present. And I think I don’t have to break the news to you: those things do happen. We do at times get rejected. We do fail. we do get betrayed. And it stings. And that sucks. There is nothing wrong with feeling pain. But today I want to encourage you: it will not always be the case. You will have successes. Good things will happen to you eventually. There is also a possibility that you will reach your dream and come alive doing what you love. There is a possibility that your parents will receive your opinion well and your connection will deepen. So don’t give up, no matter where you are right now, there is hope. And when what we have hoped for comes true… What a feeling. We can look back and see all the fears, the pain and sacrifices we went through. It adds so much value. It reminds me of a proverb “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”. In the long run, the cost of cynicism is far greater than the one of vulnerability.
I want to leave you with a quote from C.S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
So go! Go and dare! Try and fail! Fail and get up!
Breathe and be alive!