They say that if you scratch the surface of any cynic, you’ll find a disillusioned and disappointed ________ (liberal, conservative, etc, fill in the blank). While that may be true as far as it goes, in my view there is more. I think what makes cynics out of “normal” people is irrationality.
When those who know better support positions that are virtually impossible merely because those positions benefit them, and then get other supposedly rational people to join in that support, cynicism finds fertile soil.
It seems that facts mean very little to these people who want us to believe what they are espousing, even when they know the potential of veracity of their position is low to vanishing. They seek to seduce us by suggesting “what might have happened” or “What could happen” in some inane series of events, and then lead us on a farcical journey to their “inescapable” conclusion.
This is where cynics call out most loudly, “Where is the rational behavior?” The behavior based on truth, evidence, facts, positions shown to be credible over time – rational behavior purposely evaded. And isn’t it here, where cynics bathe in such irrationality, such hypocrisy, that cynics revel?
Sure, much of what we do is not all that rational, but it doesn’t usually hurt us very much. And so, we go along suffering some inconveniences or inefficiency. But when some opposition arises, we must evaluate that opposition. And when such opposition arises and calls some of my most deeply held beliefs into question, it is all the more valuable and should be energetically encouraged.
Wouldn’t we all be better off if our opinions were supported by facts and reasoning rather than consistency and we laughed in the faces of those who would prefer our unreasoned acceptance?
It is hard to Pollyanna my way to motivate citizens to political action from running for political office to voting when such wild variations in rational behavior exists among those who really do know better. And when it exists in such abundance, pontificated by those who know how false it is, how can cynicism not arise?
What can we do to hold such cynicism back? What can we expect when a small but powerful minority has so much influence over political outcomes using irrational arguments so easily consumed by so many? Pretty much what we have right now, right? So, what can we do about that?
How about finding out the facts- the reality of what happened, not just what some “interested” person interpreted for us so we wouldn’t have to worry our pretty little heads over all that confusing information?
Until we are ready to do that work, and it is work, to separate all that chaff from a few kernels, we will be covered in chaff. And cynicism will reign.
Perhaps the best move of all is to listen to everyone with an opinion, apply Billy Occam’s Razor, and then investigate what’s left. Reward those who provide us with Truth, ignore those who inundate us with Dreck. Will Truth in this way overwhelm Dreck? Perhaps not, but Dreck will always win over Truth when Truth remains undiscovered.
Cynicism by itself is unhelpful and sort of sad. Cynicism initiating questions, introducing skepticism, promoting iconoclasm is a valuable, maybe even necessary adjunct to self-government. It is definitely hard on hypocrisy.