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. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (I Corinthians 13:4-6, from the Bible, New International Version)