Being a cynic, this piece in the Guardian caught my attention. I was happy to learn that I am not so awful as most peg me...
For those too lazy to read the piece, I have excerpted a few key lines:
“...one of our best defences against spin and manipulation.”
“...cynics can be happy, constructive, even fun to hang out with.”
“...cynicism is neither wholly good nor bad...”
“...cynicism is a greater force for progress than optimism.”
“...importance of distinguishing between thinking cynically and acting cynically.”
“...realists who know that the world is not the sun-kissed fantasy peddled by positive-thinking gurus and shysters.”
“...proper cynicism is not a matter of personality but intellectual attitude.”
“...only by being distrustful that we can distinguish between the trustworthy and the unreliable.”
“...intelligent cynicism, which is not so much a blanket negativity, but a searchlight for the truly positive.”
I have been guilty of tending to cynicism. I can’t help but to call ‘em as I see ‘em. For me, a spade is a shovel, to dig your hole deeper; a club a blunt instrument to beat a dead horse; a diamond a piece of hard glass to tempt gullible people (mostly female, that most vicious of the species); but, a heart is something to have for the less-fortunate, the abused, and the underdogs amongst us.
With this in mind, I thought today about the difference between Germans and Americans, both fine examples of the species, even if each has evolved in different directions. Eons from now, paleontologists examine fossil evidence will notice variations in bone structure and teeth, both with evidence of different nutrition.
In general, Germans enjoy an excellent quality of life, but constantly complain. They know that life cannot become better for them, because of rigid social structures. Only lottery players hope for more, even if they know that they are dreaming. This is the only tax that anyone gladly pays.
In the United States, where streets are reputed to be paved with gold bricks life keeps becoming worse for the majority. Word about actual road conditions has not reached all foreign lands, and citizens do not understand that tax money is needed to improve all non-golden streets. Average living standards are declining, and the middle class is shrinking. Only the number of people sinking below the poverty level increases. Nevertheless, the American Dream is alive and kicking, with belief thriving unabated. Most seem to foolishly blame themselves or bad luck for dire circumstances and believe that the system and the Constitution allows life to become better, if only....
Unlike Germans, few Americans complain--except about the Government, regardless of the party in office. They know that improvement is just over the horizon and down the Yellow Brick Road...
I am a cynic.
That sounds like someone's confession at an AA meeting. It is not. Unlike a desperate alcoholic, I'm rather proud of this trait. (Ironically, if one looks up the definition of cynic, one finds that one synonym is Doubting Thomas...another chicken/egg thing?).
My hero is H.L.Mencken. Although he lived in the last century, most of his observations and words of wisdom are apt in current times. Humans, especially politicians, do not change.
I have found that most people do not like to hear the truth. They ignore the obvious, often to their own detriment. If you point reality, you are labeled "negative". Cynics are disregarded by anyone afraid to face facts.
An optimist sees a glass as half-full; a pessimist sees it as half-empty. A cynic knows for certain that both are true: it's obvious.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.