This article aims to talk about Idealism and its power. Far from being considered a dynamic, adaptive, useful tool, society has been taught to confuse its actual meaning, which has led to its contempt, mockery and the underestimating of its value as an antidote to the dilapidated and divided state our modern society finds itself in.
To be an Idealist has been equated to being a dreamer (someone who hopes for the best but often puts no effort on taking the steps necessary to change for the better). Having achieved such confusion within the masses, has resulted on the belief that an Idealist individual, is someone who should not be heard, who is naïve and who should be avoided. As such ” The Idealist within” is being exterminated in exchange for a sarcastic detached population who likes to call themselves realists yet realists are not cynics; cynics feel powerless and are convinced there is no point on trying to change the status quo. More and more people have lost their individuality in exchange for status; the chase of the mighty dollar….but at what cost?
“Once people said: Give me liberty or give me death. Now they say: Make me a slave, just pay me enough.”
― Todd Garlington
I believe in the pursue of a better, more comfortable life; the problem rises when we lose ourselves in exchange for status. More often than not, people who started with ideals become so dependent on their status and “success” they rather adapt to the herd mentality than to continue turning their ideals into reality. They sacrifice the best in them in exchange for permission to be “accepted” and not singled out.
Idealists are not dreamers, they are people who cherish and pursue high or noble principles, purposes, goals. They are a visionaries, who understand in order to make a dream come true, action will be needed, yet modern society tries to strip the Idealist out of us; those who refuse are labeled impractical or they are equated or confused with the immature dreamers.
More and more I see our current youth being taught not to focus, not to question; hence they are more likely to follow whatever “worthy” cause is presented without proper analysis of what it is they are being asked to stand up for. Before the idealist is stripped out of them; for it’s within their spirit to want to change life for the better; we need to teach them to think for themselves and encourage their fiery attitudes. Their spirits are so full of passion and spark yet they are not provided with the proper support to help them believe in themselves more and in their abilities.
Teaching them how to think critically seems to be one of the main components taken out of the current curriculum. If they could align their minds with the power of their beautiful hearts, they would bring such positive change to our world. I don’t advocate for proper education because I only believe in the mind, I do so because I know the mind is the tool by which the heart can express itself; turning hopes into reality.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”
Idealism then is not just a simple “tool” but a “Mastodon of a tool“, which if properly channeled could not only compete but defeat many of the dysfunctionalities we currently find within our society. Dysfunctionalities which are taking us from unique individuals to separatists who cannot bother to analyze; handing our humanity on a platter in exchange for bigger, fancier “toys”. Let us not forget, it has always been the Idealists who stood for humanity, who changed the world for the better, who made a difference and who challenged the status quo when others would simply be silent.
In 1991 the renown Psychologist Charles R. Snyder (known for his work at the interface of clinical, social, personality and health psychology) devised the theory of hope; the type of hope he described is more consistent with Idealism than mere “waiting” for things to change. According to his theory, “hope” is divided into components; agency and pathways. A person whose will & determination on the realization of his goals are large enough (agency) and who designs different strategies to the current circumstances (paths) will maximize his feelings of hope (idealism) and the ability to turn those hopes into reality; in plain words…Goals/Dreams + Action= Results. If we were to teach this formula to our kids/youth they would be better prepare for the future; they would seek more solutions to problems without losing the ability to analyze pros and cons.
In our current society more and more people are losing the ability to “think critically”. We consider ourselves to be a generation of “positive thinkers” but are less resilient than our ancestors. We find ourselves less capable of bringing about change as we have come to believe we are “small” and “insignificant”, therefore all should be left to “chance” & “faith” . We forget divine energy expresses itself through us, we are its pathway; how could change take place if the pathway remains stagnant?
Often we give up the Idealist within because of false conditioning, which teaches us we are powerless or because we don’t want to be the ones to rock the boat; even if that boat is sinking.
As mentioned earlier, I foment proper education because I believe it is extremely important to learn to think in a way that is well rounded; education however does not determine whether a person is “good” or “bad”. The brain is a most magnificent tool and the heart chakra is through which spirit manifests. The mind should not compete nor seek to annihilate the heart, neither should the heart seek to destroy the mind; balance between the two would produce a much better outcome. Metaphorically speaking, one could say the heart is the warrior while the mind is the weapon used to battle. A warrior cannot go into battle without his weapon, neither can a weapon be of any use without the warrior to control it.
If we could merge Idealism with proper education, we would help foment what scientist now call “divergent” thinking. Divergent thinking is a thought process or method used to generate creative ideas by exploring concepts most people would not. Nelson Mandela is a great example of Idealism, Divergent Thinking, Commitment and Action….
He was an activist, lawyer and politician, who fought against racial transgression and established a democratic political party within a country where “change” of the status quo did not seem possible. As a lawyer, at age 23 he moved to Luxemburg to be part of the African National Congress; a political party whose main objective was to advocate for the rights of the dark-skinned population. 7 years later, in 1948 a group of radical nationalists came to the government of South Africa, bringing with them a regime of racial segregation which imposed the supremacy of one race over the other.
Mandela, far from submitting to the absolutism of the government, organized a non-violent civil rebellion. After ten years of incessant struggle against racism, the ruling leaders wanted to put an end to the resistance and therefore made the party to which Mandela belonged to illegal. The only viable option for Mandela and the other activists was to foment a fight from the underground. He did not lose sight of his ideals despite the fact more sordid things were to come. On August 5, 1962, he was arrested for conspiracy against the dictatorship among other alleged crimes. The cruelty of the supremacist party materialized in a 27-year imprisonment. What kind of hope could one have after experiencing such a heinous scenario of injustice? He dedicated a lifetime to defending equality only to end up incarcerated and alienated from everything he knew and loved. What was it that kept him alive without losing sight of what was important? Idealism. He was an idealist, and when the seed of Idealism is fomented, no matter how ugly things may get, the idealist does not give up. Nelson Mandela had every excuse to stop being and idealist, he had every reason to simply give up on Idealism and become a “sarcastic realist” yet that is not what happened with him. Nelson Mandela would continue being and Idealist until the end of his days.
During the 1980s there was an increase in the number of protests against the South African regime using Mandela’s name as a banner. Faced with both internal and international pressure, the South African Government decided to release Nelson Mandela on February 11, 1990. Three days after his release, he was elected to lead the African National Congress. From his position of power he fought to establish democracy in South Africa, becoming the first black president of the country.
What was his secret to remain so committed to change without losing his idealism? Recently, a great variety of letters he wrote during his 27 years in prison have been published; letters which contain his reflections about the abysmal conditions his body and soul had to endured (including daily harassment by the guards and partial loss of his eyesight). Despite all of these, his writings are filled with idealism and hope. One of the poignant texts which passed through his eyes during his incarceration was a book by Vincent Peale. What he liked the most about the book was this “what is important is not what we suffer is how we deal with the pain”
The will to live is found when we come to understand we will always have the freedom to choose on how to react to tragedy and pain. Mandela arrived to the conclusion that Idealism (properly channeled) is the best tool one can have. Even when everything could be stripped away from us, if the seed of idealism has been fomented, nothing will ever defeat us.
Mandela, emphasized in numerous references, that he would continue to fight for a world where war, hunger, disease and racial intolerance would no longer exist. Without a doubt, it is the best “Ideology” for which it is worth risking everything.
Through his example Mandela proved wrong those who believe idealism is only for the dreamers, the unrealistic or the weak. Those who think that way, have a misconstrued perception about this quality, since it does not consist in sitting idly by waiting for God to solve everything or for someone else to do the work.
Real Idealism is not simply waiting, dreaming or praying for something to happen in order for things to get better. Real Idealism is smart action based on diverge thinking (heart + mind). Just wanting something, believing in something or having talents, is not enough if one is not willing to build upon those. We would be surprise just how much we can give when we commit to our growth and to accepting we are not mere ants left to a life of chance. We are pure force, spirit, divine spark by which life expresses itself. This spark is life’s best gift to us, if only we are willing to accept such gift needs to be properly appreciated and channeled. Idealism is the best tool to unearth those abilities we may have considered dead or nonexistent. Idealism is the bridge between humanity and divinity; the question is, are you willing to embrace it?
“Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life“