I am an idealist, and all that encompasses. Knowing there is evil, I believe people are inherently good. I assume their good intentions, trust what they tell me is true.
Idealism does not equal naivete. I choose to believe that the evil is the anomaly. Believing good is the anomaly is cynicism, which is at the heart of selfishness, suspicion, bigotry, corruption. Cynicism keeps the change in our pockets, justifies the bribes, makes the case for prejudice.
Idealism is not an ideology. It does not necessarily translate into compassion, tolerance, and stewardship. But these cannot thrive without it.
I am grateful for idealism, and the change that comes when idealists declare that things can, should, be better.
All this has bubbled up from a recent reading of The True Patriot, by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer (www.truepat.org). It is a gorgeous summation of our nations’ most hopeful leaders’ words, coupled with stirring photos, and the authors’ manifesto on taking back patriotism. One of my favorite quotes from the book follows:
“America is exceptional. This is not boasting or jingoism; it is fact. We are exceptional in our provenance, founded as we are on universal ideals of freedom and equal opportunity. We are exceptional in our promise, striving as we still do to live up to those ideals. Our purpose in the world is simple: to kindle the flame of a freedom worth having. And the world knows this. For all our failings, America has been the object of more hopes and dreams of more people from more places than any country in human history. But the question is this: How can we be worthy of such hopes?”