What is it that makes cynicism seem like common sense?

How come cynicism is the attitude that seems most socially proscribed and enforced?

Why is it socially safer to sneer rather than enthuse?

Think about it- that place of cynical distance we hide behind- or is it just me?  Despite myself, with a random assortment of passions and creativities, life teaches me still that the best defence against failure, against exposure, against being beached on some shoal of stupidity, is cynicism.

But nothing ever was made or created or celebrated by cynicism. Cynicism can only destroy, undermine, denude.

To achieve something new, to change the world for the better- this always requires hope. Even those of us who struggle to reach the high watermark of optimism (lets us not get carried away after all.)

Hope carries risk. Cynicism condemns us to slow decline into the mundanity of the just-enough, or even worse, the passivity of mass inertia.

So why is it that as I re-read this I still feel…. cynical?

Christmas and cynicism…


An auto post from here.

Because of the direction I started down a few years ago now in trying to break out of the Christmas consumer driven craziness, I find that some things make me angry.

Those advertisements on the TV- with celebrities who supposedly do all their shopping for celebrity friends in some most unlikely store like Argos or Lidl. And then there are the advertisements aimed at parents through their children. I could mention some brand names, but it perhaps would not be fair as they are all up to the same sort of thing really.

After the anger comes other emotion that is most unflattering- smugness– the vaguely superior feeling that I am somehow ‘different’- not like them. Of course this is nonsense- we all live in the same consumer driven culture and it is so hard to go against the flow. Advertising works- on all of us at some level.

Then there is this other more corrosive emotion called cynicism. I think this is the worst of all. It drives us to sit back, sneer and to do nothing. It is not a force for anything but inertia. It sucks the joy and the wonder out of anything it comes up against. It is the enemy of life.

I think that our lives are journeys- through all sorts of stuff- towards the unknown. They are marked by many boundaries and transitions. We do not make these journeys alone, because we are communal beings. Neither do not journey without meaning because we humans search for the depth of things- we are spiritual beings. Therefore the celebration of season- birthday, feast day, wedding, funeral, etc- is ever more important.

As a person of faith I might have a particular reason to celebrate Christmas, but I also recognise that the role of the Church in mediating our transitions and life patterns has been largely broken. Christmas is little to do with Christ. Whilst some of us might lament this in our own lives, it is simply not something that we can impose on a mostly secular society.

There is that saccarine sweetness that is sold to us in Christmas card poetry and Hollywood films- something to do with the ‘spirit of Xmas’. Which is usually conjured up with pictures of shiny faces, snow scenes, candles and of course, that greatest modern consumerist invention, Santa Claus.

Oh dear, there I go again.

What then is left? After the anger and the cynicism what remains?

These are no small questions, because life is lived in the asking of them.

I have my own partial answers- which I try to work out creatively with my family and friends and small community. I am sure that you do too.

But first I need to set aside the cynicism, and find inside of me some wonder.