Cynicism

I am saddened by a realization that may have something to do with my age, namely that I have gained the impression that cynicism is gaining the upper hand. This way of thinking, which reacts to the old and the new primarily in the form of biting ridicule without regard for the feelings of others, unfolds a destructive power. What the cynic pours his mockery on becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and you yourself, who feel like the target of the cynic, become paralyzed.

Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.

George Carlin

One becomes a cynic out of disappointment and because one feels threatened. Cynicism becomes a protective shield, the cynic shows himself indifferent to a threat in order to deprive it of the power to worry him. And in doing so, it not only robs the cynic of the realization that he must act and turn a threat into an opportunity, it also paralyzes the cynic’s environment. A cynic always feels more comfortable in his cynicism, because it surrounds him with the aura of wisdom.

Diogenes, the first cynic, renounced material things – or more correctly – was forced to do so after being banished from his hometown. He found this renunciation as a means of not being subject to any constraints and not having to live up to anyone. Cynicism makes it easy for cynics to take themselves out of responsibility and to ridicule others for their efforts, because it automatically insinuates that they are acting from selfish motives.

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American comedian and late-night host Stephen Colbert, summed up the danger of cynicism to people’s happiness and future in these words, and I will leave them at that:

Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.

Stephen Colbert

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