In defense of Idealism

In defense of Idealism

- by Cary Hopkins Eyles

I have been watching the interchange of ideas and politics on Synergy of late and I have wanted to put my two cents in but have been uncertain how to do so. I am clearly more aligned with writers such as eric eyles, Jerre Skog and Cari Oleskewicz than I am with Steve Hopkins and Lori Oleskewicz (you will note that I bear the names of two of the men in question here – how fun!).

You May Say I’m A Dreamer

I am a pacifist. I completely disagree with the use of violence. You can press me as you wish and I will not falter on this. To that end, I have been accused of being idealistic. And that makes me sad because I wonder why it is seen as unrealistic or naďve to stick to my ideal. Ideals are our principles, morals, ethics. And an ideal world is the best one we can imagine. Why wouldn’t we want to work towards that? I believe that is what is missing, particularly in Steve’s arguments – he says that he doesn’t want war or violence but that sometimes we have to accept it. I disagree…

I find it comforting to look to those I respect in history and listen for their advice. I think that many people have said it better than I ever could. And they didn’t say it in easy, "simpler" times – they said it while they were being persecuted, threatened, thrown in jail... These folks lived in times that were as complicated and difficult or frightening as we do. The times were just challenging in different ways. The fights for civil rights, racial and gender equality, wars in Vietnam, Korea – these were not easy times.

Martin Luther King Jr said: "I love you. I would rather die than hate you."
A Knock at Midnight: Inspiration from the Great Sermons of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.(aka "Love Your Enemies")

Mr. King and my spiritual and religious views are quite distinct and yet we agree on nonviolent means. This demonstrates what many people already know: that at their core, without the rituals and before they are tainted by politics and economics, most religions are the same. They all espouse nonviolence in some form. Thou shall not kill doesn’t only apply to non-soldiers. The government is not exempt.

Be the Change

We are probably all aware of the nonviolent resistance of Mahatma Gandhi. To those who call these techniques or beliefs unrealistic or think that these views are fine until backed into a corner, I ask you to recall that with his last breath, Gandhi forgave his assassin.

In terms of his ideal, Gandhi was realistic but had optimistic goals:
"We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it. The attainment of freedom, whether for a person, a nation or a world, must be in exact proportion to the attainment of nonviolence for each."

What Price War?

I completely disagree with this war. With any war. With any violence. Steve is right. I will protect my children. In fact, I am already working to protect them by trying to create a world where there is peace. Not through war. I imagine the best possible scenario for the life of my children and I aspire to it. Not to anything less. Protecting them doesn’t mean picking up the biggest, most dangerous weapon. Unless you count my voice and my education and my compassion. These are dangerous indeed.

The dissenters of the 60s protected us by fighting for what they believed in. Some may feel they lost but I think they made great strides and opened up the way for a new generation of people who will not tacitly accept what the government, or corporations, or the media, tells us.

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams

As for the idea of Steve’s children having to go into battle. Steve says that while he doesn’t want his children to be soldiers, he also doesn’t want them to fear terrorism. Well to this I have many reactions. First of all, aren't we afraid of terrorism in the U.S. right now – while we wage a war in Afghanistan? In fact, by all accounts the fact that we are bombing Afghanistan increases the possibility of further terrorism in the U.S. This shows that these two options are not entirely distinct.

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it."
– Buddha

I refuse to spend my life choosing between "bad and worse". Our only choices cannot be to live in fear or to eradicate our enemies. Fear is a choice. Things that are occurring now are frightening but we do not have to live our lives in fear and we cannot make decisions based in fear. Violence has long been our response when we are threatened. How has it served us so far? Has it stopped murder? Rape? Hate? Prejudice? Racism? Sexism? Poverty? It has evidently not endeared us to other countries or peoples. We have tried the violence route. It has failed. Now we have to be a great deal more creative with our choices. I will not choose fear or violence. Even in the face of violence and aggression, I will aspire to something beautiful and life affirming.

................ Cary's Page
................................Synergy Home