You may say I’m a dreamer…

But, I’m not the only one. I’ve often been called an idealist and it was usually said to imply my naiveté – it always sounded more like a pat on the head and “Isn’t that cute.” It always drives me crazy because I still don’t understand what’s wrong with being an idealist. Striving for an ideal is not saying that you think things are ideal. It is simply a goal. To understand that a perfect peace is not in reality obtainable does not mean that we should not strive for peace even if it is imperfect. So, I was thrilled at President Obama’s speech as he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. (The full text is here.) Obama Nobel Peace Prize Speech His closing is exactly what I have tried to explain to those who disparage me as an idealist.

“We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of deprivation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.”

At the risk of getting too touchy-feely, idealism is simply believing that we can and should strive for the highest ideals. It is a positive outlook. Idealism is what drove Obama’s campaign – the hope and the belief that we could change. Currently, we have lost that hope. It is hard not to be depressed listening to the news. Everything is negative. The zeitgeist has shifted from “Yes, we can!” to “Ain’t never gonna happen.” It is what we seem to do – we build up to tear down. It is endemic of our culture. The negative mood is not helpful. It is self-prophesying. We can’t, so we don’t. We always talk about the “can do” spirit of America, but it seems the only thing we can do is naysay anyone trying to do anything. It is so easy to say no and so hard to get off your ass. Call me an idealist, but I really think it’s time to do so.


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