13 Reasons to Give Up Cynicism in this election Season

13 Reasons to Give Up Cynicism in 2013

I am giving up cynicism for my New Year’s Resolution.  I have been accused of being a cynic. I have even been proud of it.

But this year, I realized that I was feeling weighed down by cynicism. I was discouraged about the recent election even before I knew the result. I felt bombarded by endless negative and deceptive political ads from all viewpoints, especially the issues and politicians I agreed with. At one point in my life, I enjoyed watching election returns with popcorn next to my chair. This year, I was more than ready for it to be over.

Cynicism has been defined as “An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity, especially a general distrust of the integrity or professed motives of others.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cynicism). The synonyms for Cynicism are revealing: pessimism, sarcasm, suspicion, disparagement, skepticism, distrust, doubt, scorn. It is poison to the soul. A cancer to the spirit.

13 Reasons to give up the poison of Cynicism:

1) Cynicism leads to discouragement.

2) Cynicism leads to a lack of love towards others; harshness toward others.

3) Cynicism leads to malicious gossip.

4) Cynicism leads to unbelief.

5) Cynicism leads to distrust the motives of others.

6) Cynicism leads us to search for conspiracy theories.

7) Cynicism destroys relationships.

8) Cynicism leads to hopelessness.

9) Cynicism leads to an unforgiving attitude.

10) Cynicism leads to hardness of heart.

11) Cynicism leads to fear.

12) Cynicism leads to self-righteous attitudes.

13) Cynicism leads to spiritual illness.

If I back away from cynicism, what should replace it? It is no good to give something up if a vacuum is left in its wake. That leaves space for the poison to rush back in, only more virulent than before.

The cure for cynicism can only come from the life giving transfusion of mercy, grace, love, and faith, which come from God.

God’s Mercy and Kindness

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3: 4-6)

God’s Grace

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— (Ephesians 2:8)

God’s Love

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[f] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

God’s Faithfulness

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23

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An Antidote to Cynicism

I’ve been reading the Psalms (in the Bible) and I came across Psalm 73. It was good for my soul.

Psalm 73

A psalm of Asaph.

Surely God is good to Israel,
    to those who are pure in heart.

But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
    I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
    when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

They have no struggles;
    their bodies are healthy and strong.[a]
They are free from common human burdens;
    they are not plagued by human ills.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
    they clothe themselves with violence.
From their callous hearts comes iniquity[b];
    their evil imaginations have no limits.
They scoff, and speak with malice;
    with arrogance they threaten oppression.
Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
    and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
    and drink up waters in abundance.[c]
11 They say, “How would God know?
    Does the Most High know anything?”

12 This is what the wicked are like—
    always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
    and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
    and every morning brings new punishments.

15 If I had spoken out like that,
    I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
    it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
    then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
    you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
    completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
    when you arise, Lord,
    you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
    and my spirit embittered,
22 I was senseless and ignorant;
    I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
    you hold me by my right hand.
24 You guide me with your counsel,
    and afterward you will take me into glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
    you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds.

Purveyors of Outrage

I cleaned up my Facebook feed this week.

I hid all posts from Conservative Daily, Tea Party, Heritage Foundation, The Blaze, etc.These entities sell outrage for our consumption. I hide liberal pages as well. I am tired of being yanked around by half truths.

I have my circular file at the door ready for most political advertisements.

I gave up watching or listening to Fox News, CNN, and the Today Show, among others, in 2013. All the shouting is evidence that they want the listener to share in the outrage. Ugh.

This is what God wants to see evidenced in our lives:

“5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phillipians 4:5

Shouting is not compatible with gentleness.

The Lord is near. Think about that.

These websites and TV stations also try to raise the flight/fight response. By sharing these posts, we participate in raising the level of anxiety in each other.

The very next verses are instructive.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

We don’t get to make politics the exception. “In every situation.”

It’s the mean season in politics. Don’t participate.

Outrage is for sale. I not buying. Not even in the market.



Cynicism – the Easy Way Out

At its heart, cynicism is the easy way out.

Cynicism allows us to make snap judgments because we have decided in advance that certain people, certain groups, are not only not to be trusted, but they have nothing to say that might be reasonable.

Cynicism saves time. Cynics don’t need to spend time thinking about the merits of other viewpoints. Their minds are already made up.

Cynics don’t have to take the risk their opponents might have some good motives, though perhaps misguided.

Cynics don’t have to think too hard. Their tools for dismissing the thoughts of others are always conveniently at the ready. Press secretaries, celebrities, and politicians all have “talking points.” This is how we descend into using The Big Lie. The Big Lie was a propaganda technique used by Hitler. We are inundated with Big Lies in this media saturated world.

A few weeks back, a friend of mine quoted Joshua Storment on his Facebook page. It made me think about how easy it is be a cynic.

        “It is interesting that in the Bible, the idea for cynicism is something like a “scoffer.” They are the fool. This is not what we normally associate with cynics. Cynics, in our world, are more likely to be seen as the only ones who aren’t fools. The person who is able to quickly deconstruct is the wisest in the room, and maybe they are…but not if they don’t know what they don’t know.
Cynicism makes the subtle leap from maybe to certainty, from some to all. People can’t be trusted, bankers do it for money, politicians do it for power, and God is just a word people use to feel better about death, impose their will on others, or get their Aunt Betty to die without freaking out.
Cynicism is so toxic, because it tends to presents itself as wisdom. The Bible calls it what it is…foolish.” Jonathan Storment. (Read more of his work here: http://jonathanstorment.com/)

The sentence about stereotyping – bankers do it for the money, politicians do it for the power….So easy just to plug people into their slots. No sense in getting to know the heart of a politician, or listen to why someone could be a Christian feminist.

Cynicism allows us to smear those with opposing views with a broad brush. All Pro lifers are smeared with of the killing of abortion clinic workers. Those who support choice are smeared with the dirty abortion clinic shut down in Muskegon County last year.

We are in the midst of the season that germinated this blog – the run up to an election. I started writing this blog in response to the cynical lies generated by both sides during the 2012 election. It wore me out, made me feel sick.

As a byproduct or maybe the product, the lies multiply in all forms of media during election season. For the sake of power, all manner of cynical lies are passed off as truth. Passing legislation in the U.S. is sort of like making sausage. A little bit of this, a little bit of that is added to each major piece of legislation. So the Affordable Health Care Act ballooned to thousands of pages. So did the Americans with Disabilities Acts. This is how the pork is obtained for each legislator’s home districts. A grant for researching the lives of spiders is inserted into law, a new bridge is funded, a new tax deduction is added for chicken farmers, etc. So Justin Amash is accused of refusing to vote against gender based abortion, when he may have been voting against new taxes or the exorbitant cost of a new military helicopter. He is a libertarian after all. Brian Ellis is accused of foolish spending when he served on the East Grand Rapids School Board, when he really was doing what he thought was best for the students of that district. As voters, we need to consider the record as a whole, not just one small part, or even one mistake. What is the overwhelming pattern in our representative’s work.

When I read Joshua Storment’s words, I realized that cynicism is not only easy, it’s lazy.

In some ways, it is the opposite of Love. Love takes work, thought, patience. Love takes risks. Jesus calls on us to love our enemies and pray for those who spitefully oppose us.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-6, from the Bible, New International Version)