Chipping Away at Idealism

I recently read an article that posited that it is our expectations that often have more to do with the results of our lives than the strategies we employ to get those results.

In other words, according to this particular psychological journal, if we expect good results we are more likely to achieve good results.  It is perilously close to the ridiculous concept behind The Secret - wish real hard for money or a blow job or tickets to a sold out concert and it will magically happen for you.

I woke up at 4AM with the TV on an infomercial channel one morning. On the idiot box was a Southern Preacher espousing the idea that if 1,189 viewers planted a $1,000 seed to his ministry, they each would be immediately blessed with fortune. It surprised me because rarely have I seen a ploy so obvious, so blatantly full of shit, than a ministry that makes no bones about it's purpose - make money off of the same greed and hopelessness that chronic gamblers wear like a sports jersey.

Essentially, these ideas are callbacks to the Power of Positive Thinking which, in turn, describes my own history of Political Optimism. I want, desperately, to believe that there are politicians who are independently wealthy (thus making them electable because poor people just don't run for higher office) and are also honest and straightforward and genuinely looking out for the betterment of his or her fellow man. But my almost rabid desire for these people to exist is so frequently greeted with the sad, frustrating reality that those with the money and influence to actually get elected in our World of Spin have had that money and influence long enough to suffer a disconnect from the pragmatic realities the rest of us face daily.

These people who run and get elected are removed from the idea that our societal make up punishes people because they are without that money and influence. Certainly undocumented immigrants, black men, Muslims, and anyone out of the mainstream of the United States of Fat, Wealthy White Guys get a raw deal but the reality is that a fabulously wealthy undocumented immigrant, black man, Muslim, homosexual isn't really that different in influence and access than the Fat, White Guy. Sure - it's far more difficult to become a black woman with billions but once in the Club of the Monied Class, the color of the skin and the lack of a penis becomes meaningless in the face of Wealth.

I want it to be different, to be fairer, to be more ideal but my writing it down and hoping real fucking hard does no more to make things equitable and fair than my fantasies of winning the Lotto or making a middle class living creating art. The Power of Wanting Something to Be True vs the Reality of Actual Circumstance is frequently the losing battle for those of with less.  It's as simple as that. I could run for office but I don't have the money to do so and, if I went down that road to gain the money to do so, the comprises and deals made would slowly taint any noble intentions that I had. I am, after all, human. The lure of easier days and lots of material stuff is just too juicy to ignore.

I read the constant stream of corruption and deal-making done by our elected officials. I read about the undue influence that those with money and power wield. I read about how our society has created an entire criminal class out of people who just want to get high and the hypocrisy of those elected creating the legislation that punishes that class while getting high themselves. The image of the tanned, wealthy Congressman bragging about his vote to continue the War on Drugs while having his third gin & tonic, a bottle of Viagra in his briefcase with his Prozac-soaked wife in tow is galling.

In the face of all of this, I want to be idealistic. I want to be optimistic. I want to be a part of solutions that change things.

But the drumbeat of inequity and hypocrisy and greed chips away at that desire. Beats it down like a hammer on wood, splintering the fabric of the grain and leaving chunks of it on the sawdust covered floor.

I read recently that Obama's lasting legacy may be to have created an entire generation of cynics - kids who went out and campaigned for Change only to be greeted by a much less sexy version of Change - Change with Lots of Compromise with Those Intent on Keeping Things the Same.

I hope that's not the case. But hope in one hand and shit in the other and wonder which hand needs to be washed, right?


I can't help myself.

Like one of those 1,189 people dropping a grand so that a corrupt preacher can promise them immediate good fortune, my desire to believe in the possibility of a better, fairer, cleaner and humane world cannot be dimmed for too long by the battering. Instead, it turns my idealism into anger. And anger, when properly channeled, is what fuels all substantive change. Like The Secret, I will continue to write down what I want for the world and continue to practice the Power of Positive Thinking because, after all, if I simply lie down and accept that the world is hard and people are often greedy, self-interested douchebags, I'm no different from the guy who said we'd never fly or that women would never vote or that a black man would never be the President of the United States.

And that guy is a qualified dipshit.

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