Idealism - Blind, Conditioned or Pure?

Posted by M ws On Friday, May 31, 2013 0 comments
I woke up this morning feeling quite philosophical and over my favourite cup of white coffee, wondered why youth today are more gungho than those in the past. As I recalled various recent developments and pitched them against a few theoretical frameworks, this blog post was soon birthed.

When young or 'enlightened', an idealist can be regarded as a visionary who chases what he/she regards as high purposes and goals - normally for the betterment of the society to which he belongs. Such a person would do his/her utmost to strive for the ideal goals regardless of the painful current reality. Idealists believe in hopeful possibilities.

A stark contrast to cynics.

To a large extent, however, many, if not all of us, were born to be idealists and such a characteristic is fuelled by people who made us understand our potential with the hope that could push us forward to achieve our goals.

As a once-upon-a-time young and idealistic person, now that I am older I can see how many who are young (or who are young at heart) enthusiastically work towards changing the world either via anti-war campaigns or efforts to reduce/eliminate poverty or work diligently in environmental conservation or saving a particular threatened species or bringing justice to the world regardless of age, sex, race, gender, creed, location etc.

Undeniably, cynical older persons would react to such issues differently. Some might even regard such idealistic overtures as mere tomfoolery with a hopeless future because they would have a pessimistic view of the world and what the future holds for all.



I reckon that through the passage of time, blind idealism is gradually transformed into cynicism when reality bites. One may suddenly realize that we do not live in a black and white world of good vs bad or of status quo vs opposition. Or one may realize that a single person does not have power to effect change. While others may say that there is strength in numbers, one must question whether the numbers can be translated into leadership qualities that are capable of propelling, effecting and sustaining change.

Both the idealist and the cynic are not wrong or fully correct. There is no absolute measure of the their ideals or opinions.

I am just sharing my thoughts with the hope that when one talks about change, one cannot switch sides as easily as changing underwear. One must be cautious that whatever ideals one may have is not the product of propaganda, jumping on the bandwagon or conforming to populist views. A middle ground exists and rather than slamming one for not choosing one of two extremes, perhaps we should consider the reason for their stand. To be and to me, balance is important. There cannot be a dogmatic view of  "if you’re not with us you’re against us" because such fallacies are born out of conformity to hard-hitting campaigns.



If we care to look beyond the surface, there is a lot of false dilemmas created for hidden agenda.

"A false dilemma (also called the fallacy of the false alternative, false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of the excluded middle, fallacy of false choice, black-and/or-white thinking, or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of informal fallacy that involves a situation in which limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option. The options may be a position that is between two extremes (such as when there are shades of grey) or may be completely different alternatives. The opposite of this fallacy is argument to moderation.

False dilemma can arise intentionally, when fallacy is used in an attempt to force a choice (such as, in some contexts, the assertion that "if you are not with us, you are against us"). But the fallacy can also arise simply by accidental omission of additional options rather than by deliberate deception." MORE HERE.

Generally, many may not be aware that they are the victims of black and white fallacies.

According to this site:

black-or-white

You presented two alternative states as the only possibilities, when in fact more possibilities exist.
Also known as the false dilemma, this insidious tactic has the appearance of forming a logical argument, but under closer scrutiny it becomes evident that there are more possibilities than the either/or choice that is presented. Binary, black-or-white thinking doesn't allow for the many different variables, conditions, and contexts in which there would exist more than just the two possibilities put forth. It frames the argument misleadingly and obscures rational, honest debate.

Example: Whilst rallying support for his plan to fundamentally undermine citizens' rights, the Supreme Leader told the people they were either on his side, or they were on the side of the enemy.

You may want to explore more AT THIS SITE.

In my lectures, I used to make it a point that my students understood and could identify fallacies of thoughts/ideas so that they could separate the wheat from the chaff and not fall prey to all kinds of messaging.

When one subscribes to a certain ideal, explore all facets. Question. Investigate. Analyze and then conclude.

Are the messages consistent?

Are the measures logical? Or are they repeating what was done in the past EVEN THOUGH history has shown us that all came to naught due to the futility of such overtures which probably had ulterior motives.

Never be used by anyone/group/party. Exercise independent thinking and do not be bullied into conformity or succumb to peer pressure. Instead, let God or our conscience and analytical conclusions based on facts be our guide.

It is one thing to be idealistic or hopeful and another thing to demand more from what people are ready to give. It is not fair to condemn others for not acquiescing to demands/expectations for such a platform of dogmatism would work against the cause, if it is a noble one. I surmise it is good to demand certain ideals but if undertaken insensitively, would surely elicit negative or even violent/undesirable reactions.

The bottom line is think independently and questions. Always have a balanced view. It does not mean that just because 500 000 people share the same view is a guarantee that it is a valid view. Few realize it could mean that 500 000 or less have been misled or influenced subliminally or unconsciously or just swept away with the moment.

As for me, I just wish that more people, myself included, can have the desire and ability to question and to think beyond whatever platter of messages that are offered to us.

There has to be more than what we see.

And, it is up to us to discover it for ourselves instead of conforming to the hypodermic syringe model of communication as theorized by Katz and Lazarfeld (1955). One must remember that whatever the media tells us must be finely sieved lest we fall prey to the selective messages that are intended for specific audiences. Read more here.

Between dreams and ideals, I would hold on to dreams for the lack of those would mean the death of an active mind that works independently. Dreams keep us alive. For now, I have learnt that idealism weakens the ability of an individual to be objective. There can never be absolutes in life for we live in a dynamic world subjected to so many internal and external forces at work.

Do share your responses to this post. Thanks!


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