Sunday, September 19, 2010

clever harry.

"Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack."
--Harry Emerson Fosdick

harry was a clever guy. i don't agree with all that he supported or lead, but some i do. and whether or not i agree with any of it, i can at least acknowledge that he is a very clever harry. a very clever harry indeed.

cynicism isn't a good thing. i'll rarely be so absolute in my statements (the fruit of being a psych major--you qualify everything you say with "usually," "often," or something equivalent), but i feel bold enough at this moment about this particular point that i'll just go hog wild. webster defines a cynic as "a faultfinding captious critic; especially: one who believes that human conduct is motivated wholly by self-interest." "captious" being "marked by an often ill-natured inclination to stress faults and raise objections." honest, practical, pragmatic, realistic--these are the vessels or reasoning that, often, cynicism will use to present itself. the fact is, you can be honest, practical, pragmatic, and realistic without being cynical. it's the difference between "we've poor odds" and "don't bother trying" or "i haven't had the best experiences in dating" and "screw dating."

i'm a cynic at times. depending on subject and timing, i certainly can have a cynical streak as i suppose many of us can. i guess it depends on when and where you talk to me--but if you know me well, you probably don't even need to. either way, like harry pointed out, it's typically an absence of something, and i'll add negative experiences, that lead to cynicism.

this being the case, i think just about every person i know has "discover[ed] what [i] lack" already.

logically, though, i can't seem to make the connection that this means one can see what a person is optimistic about, and see what they have. my best conclusion is that an optimist is a person who may or may not have a lack in a given area, but fails to see the point in being a cynic about it, and sees the value of positive outlook.
in some areas i'm quite the optimist. in others, eh, not so much. but according to the logic i've pieced together--that's very stupid. i should just be an optimist.


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