I've been thinking a lot about cynicism lately. When I say lately, I mean the past few months. (I like to let thoughts rinse and spin for a while before hanging them to dry). I think the reason for these thoughts is because as an expectant mother, I'm thinking a lot about what kind of "legacy" I want to pass on to my child. And I'm realizing that I don't want my legacy to include cynicism. The ability to think critically, yes, but not cynicism. A fine line indeed.
This may be more easily said than done. Jeff and I definitely lean towards an attitude of cynicism, especially with regards to certain areas of life, and I'd have to say that we certainly embraced it quite fully as a means of dealing with the shock of resuming our Canadian lives a year and a half ago.
But I find that as the months have gone by, I've grown tired... ridiculously tired of this former ally. Frankly speaking, it's begun to bore me. I hear it in myself, I hear it in Jeff, I hear it in friends and family around me, and I think, "This is really getting old."
At its heart, I believe cynicism is intellectual laziness. No, actually, pairing it with the word "intellectualism" is wrong. Because it's not. It's just laziness. It's easy for me to look and sound intelligent by merely putting down every idea put out there, and every moron who chooses to believe it. And I've walked that road. I've even perfected the smirk that goes along with it. It's easy because you can be the constant critic without actually having to become vulnerable. Without actually having to hold on to or believe in anything. And I'm not talking about religious faith here, although that's certainly one aspect of it. I'm talking the whole gamut: politics, education, employment (or lack of it), cultural differences... you name it.
I'm realizing that I don't admire cynics. In fact, I smell the fear and the disappointment that quietly lurks beneath the cynicism. We cynics have tasted defeat. And sadly, we've let it harden us. I've also realized that when we cynics start spouting off, we're more interested in impressing others with the seeming intelligence of our words than we are in actually listening to differing opinions and digging for the truth. Yes, those are hard words. And I mean each and every one of them. Whatever happened to good, honest debate?
I'm also realizing that the people I really DO admire are those that are still willing and able to become real and vulnerable. Who are willing to admit they don't have all the answers. But are able to discuss and question real life matters regardless. And in the midst of all this, they believe. And they hold to what they believe, quietly and humbly, even in the face of mockery.
Ya, that's what I want. For me and my house.
Now, as you read through this post, I'm sure some of you are saying, "Amen! Down with cynicism!" while others of you are saying, "Hey... is she directing this post at me?" Let's face it: cynical people attract cynical friends. But don't bother getting offended. Quite honestly, I thought of a number of people while writing this, not the least of which (whom?) being yours truly. But this blog is for the working out of my thoughts. Not the guilt tripping of your minds. Period. Besides, getting offended just wastes so much personal brain space and energy. So don't bother, okay? ;)
At the same time, I am certainly thinking of others who have been an amazing example to me of "purity of thought." I feel funny naming names, so I won't. But I thank you for your wonder, and awe, and simplicity. They are my goal.
A few weeks ago, at a Thanksgiving service at our church, we were encouraged to stand up and share things we're thankful for. It was a really meaningful service for me, as I publicly thanked God for "the ability to conceive" as I put it, and "the symbolism of the timing" as I also put it. I completely lost it, like I haven't done in a long time, and fully embarrassed myself in the process (although, really, this is totally cool in our church)... Anywhoooo, slight aside... sometime during that "sharing time," Jeff, who is less prone to public displays of, well, anything, leaned over and whispered to me, "I'm thankful for my wife, who keeps me honest." Yes, yes, I share his secrets, and boast about myself in the process (this post is, after all, about cynicism, not humility ;) ) but his comment was well, the best compliment I've ever received. See, we've been struggling in this muck of cynicism together for quite some time now, and what he said made me see that yes, bit by bit, I'm conquering it. And I'm pushing my nearest and dearest to conquer it as well.
And so I know there's hope for Jeff and I too. This pregnancy has brought me joy like I've never known before. And Jeff's photography expresses a beauty and gentleness that is deep within his heart. So for both of us, there are factors at work, chipping away at the layers of hardness.
And it's good.