It’s a thin line between skepticism and cynicism.

It occurs to me that I crisscross between skepticism (which I embrace) and cynicism nowadays. I seem to have always questioned the truth of just about everything; but lately I feel like I’m more frequently doing so with a preconception of falsehood, and I don’t think that’s healthy. I’m not sure how to turn it around.

I was telling Kay yesterday of my opinion that a lot of the behavioral issues we’re seeing these days are attributable to a lack of personal accountability; and that, although I don’t believe we invented it, a lot of that is a failure of my generation… or me. I laugh at Charlie Sheen but I also think he’s a horribly malformed human being. Instead of spiraling toward a pauper’s grave, Arnold Schwarzenegger is restarting his movie career. I don’t even want to think about how many billions of people have heard of any number of celebritantes but have never heard of Dian Fossey. (She’d have been 81 today).

When I lived in Southern California, I’d hear Michael Josephson airing his snippets for “Character Counts” and… okay, I’d yell at my radio: “No, it doesn’t! No one cares!” That’s cynical, because someone must care whether it’s me or Josephson or whomever.

Who was surprised when the NRA put out a character assassination piece against the President instead of any pretense at a rational argument against gun control?  That prejudice that you’re about to hear a bullshit argument is cynicism, and it pretty much closes the door against changing anything.

I have to find a way to believe that things can change. I think that if I can’t find a way to give them the benefit of any doubt, I can’t expect or even hope that they will do the same for me.

 

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2 Responses to It’s a thin line between skepticism and cynicism.

  1. Rain Trueax says:

    The problem today is we have to be able to make judgement calls and when we do we are often told it doesn’t matter what we think or we shouldn’t judge anything and in the end who cares. The young man who committed suicide because he had taken too much information from Harvard (if I understand this all correctly) had the right to take information from there, had access granted but took way more than he was supposed to. Harvard did not want to prosecute but a prosecutor for the government did and the end result is he faced 36 potential years in prison. The more I read on this the more I agreed with the young man’s father– the government went way too far and should have some accountability in what they did. BUT who decides what is too far in either case? We live in such a complex world that it’s amazing any of us can focus on anything. With Armstrong, I feel no sympathy for him at all, will not be seeing his interview as Oprah is no favorite of mine either, BUT do they all do it? Is this another of those cases where the rules cannot be enforced and are too easy to break with no consequence until somebody finally goes too far?

    I think skepticism doesn’t have to end up with cynicism but it’s easy to see why it can. I don’t want to give up being a skeptic though because I think that’s healthy. The problem is when does it go too far?

  2. Harold says:

    I think that’s why I need to filter my input better: it’s easy to get bogged down in the volume of stuff I don’t care about. Our parents had the radio, and their parents not even that. We hear about actual news and trivial crap all intermixed.
    I’m trying to muster empathy for Aaron Swartz, but he’d been busted and let off the hook in 2008 and went for another bite of the apple at MIT where they were doing who knows what kind of research. I think it’s sad for him that it got so far before it got through to him that he wasn’t a kid anymore and doing what he was doing wasn’t okay.